Michael Holding can’t find the logic as to why Virat Kohli chose to ignore the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane from the playing XI. Holding also has credited SA coach Ottis Gibson for instilling a positive mindset in the team and compliments his ‘aggressive’ team selection.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was India’s highest wicket-taker at Newlands, with 6 for 120 and with the bat, he faced second-most balls (127) in the match - only next to AB de Villiers - while making 38 for once out. Along with Hardik Pandya, he was the silver lining for India to take away from another chastening overseas defeat.
With stats like that, one could hardly comprehend skipper Kohli’s decision to drop the player from the crucial showdown versus the Proteas. Highly-feared West Indian pacer, Michael Holding had similar views on the issue as he said, “I am very surprised that Bhuvneshwar was dropped after what he did in Cape Town, but I am just as surprised that Rahane was not played. His record overseas is better than most.
“I don’t know enough about Rohit Sharma and some of the other guys. See, I only see India play Test cricket when they come to England and then in South Africa. That is why it will not be fair for me to comment much on other people.”
“And to be honest, what I have seen of Rahane, he seems to me to be a very good player. I was just surprised to not see him in the XI and the same thing with Bhuvneshwar. I think he is a very good bowler and I was surprised that he was not in the XI.” Holding said in an interview to News 18.
Holding was quite critical of the batting performance of the Indian side as compared to their stats at home. He was of the opinion that the Indian bowling department has it in them to churn 20 wickets in a Test match, but that won’t make much of a difference if the batting line-up fails.
“The Indians have the bowling to pick 20 wickets and win Test matches. And I am saying that from the very first Test match in Cape Town. I have no problem with the Indian bowling, but will the batsmen put runs on the board? From the very first day in Cape Town, I have been saying that. It is up to the batsmen to get the runs on the board and then the bowlers will do their job,” Holding reiterated.
Lungi Ngidi ended his impressive debut with figures of 6-39, but the real game-changer for the Proteas was AB de Villiers, according to Holding. His 80 in the second innings helped steady the boat for the South Africans and his diving exploits in the field sealed the win for the home team.
“With AB de Villiers in the team, six batsmen and five bowlers give it the balance. AB makes a huge difference. He will make a huge difference in any team. And with him in the team, they have the confidence of the batsmen doing a good job.” the 1979 World Cup winner said.
Holding went on to credit fellow West Indian pacer and current coach of the SA team, Ottis Gibson for bringing about a positive mindset to the team through his coaching methods.
“Well I have not seen the 5 Test matches that Ottis Gibson has been in charge of, so I can’t really speak of any noticeable change. What I have seen is a lot more aggression as far as the team selection is concerned. And I would assume that Gibson being a West Indian and a former fast bowler might be a reason for that (smiles)” Holding added.