Team India’ coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli had been surrounded by criticism over the exclusion of Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane from the Test team. For the first two Test on this South Africa tour, a Rahane-less India had to suffer humiliating defeats despite showing some character.
In an interview with TOI, Shastri talked about giving Rohit Sharma a nod ahead of Rahane. He said “Right from the beginning, there was no doubt in the mind of the team management that Rohit was the batsman in form while Ajinkya was struggling, not just on the field but in the nets too. Rohit was averaging more than 200 in Tests and had scored around 1200-odd runs in ODIs. So, what does the team tell him? Your runs don’t matter because that’s how it works?”
“Performances count and that makes this whole talking point a no-brainer. We all know what Ajinkya is capable of, but before coming here, he was averaging about 30 all through 2017,” he added.
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Talking about India’s latest Test player Jaspirt Bumrah, former all-rounder called it a right decision. “Bumrah was our surprise package coming here and did it work? Of course. Tell me the last time a bowler has delivered so confidently on debut and has been learning so quickly. He was among the most consistent. In Cape Town, he bowled us back into the Test from where we could have won. In Johannesburg, he was simply intimidating,” said Shastri. “People want to say a lot of things, but where are these people now?”
Meanwhile, he also revealed the reason behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s exclusion from Centurion Test. He concluded by saying “We knew Bhuvi had to be played at the Wanderers and in fact, given the Centurion wicket – it had nothing for pace bowlers, leave alone swing – we knew Bhuvi would be fresh for the third Test. Ishant bowled beautifully in the first innings at Centurion, he got us both, AB & Faf and what a tireless effort it’s been from him.”
After giving away the Test series, India won Johannesburg Test and opened the ODI series with a comprehensive victory by six wickets.