IND vs SA | Winners and losers from Vizag Test ft. Kuldeep Yadav, Senuran Muthusamy and Rohit Sharma's critics
After stern resistance from the visitors for four days, sanity was restored on Day 5 as the Protean batters folded like a pack of cards within the first hour. As is always the case, there were multiple winners and losers from the game and we, at SportsCafe, have compiled a list from the first Test.
Senuran Muthusamy: In Tamil, the word “Muthusamy” can be split into two words, “Muthu” meaning Pearl and “Samy” meaning God. And one can say that in Muthusamy, who incidentally has Tamil ancestry, South Africa might just have found a pearl. After being originally picked in the team as more of a bowling all-rounder, it was, in fact, his batting that separated Muthusamy from the rest. A combination of his phlegmatic attitude and robust technique against spin helped him stay unbeaten in both the innings and he, with his grit, taught a lesson to his seniors. In Muthusamy, South Africa might just have accidentally stumbled upon a pearl while digging for gold.
Virat Kohli: We’re not talking about Virat Kohli the batsman here, but Virat Kohli the captain. Post the World Cup, everything the Indian skipper’s touched - from Shreyas Iyer’s recall to the decision to persist with Rahane and Vihari to the move to play Jadeja as a lone-spinner in the Windies - has turned into gold. And Vizag was no different. From Rohit Sharma to Ravi Ashwin to Wriddhiman Saha, everyone Kohli put their trust on repaid the faith by doing what was asked of them. The Indian skipper has often come under fire for his dubious selection calls and his hankering to tinker with the combination, but in Vizag he just proved why his “go with the gut” approach is what has made him India’s most successful Test captain of all time.
The South African bench: Who out of Zubayr Hamza, Heinrich Klaasen, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi would be the happiest post the Vizag Test? Honestly, it’s a tough one to call, as thanks to the performance churned out by some players in the first Test, individually, every single one of these players has a realistic chance of featuring in the next Test. But more than Hamza and Klaasen, it looks certain that one of Ngidi or Nortje will feature in Pune after Dane Piedt’s dismal showing with the ball. On the other hand, should the Proteas decide to tinker with their balance and play an extra batsman, we might just see either Klaasen or Hamza don the whites. Mind you, both of them were with South Africa ‘A’ sides prior to the Tests and are well-versed with the conditions. As the saying goes, “One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity”.
Kuldeep Yadav: “Going ahead, if we have to play one spinner (overseas), Kuldeep is the one we will pick,” said Ravi Shastri after the Australia tour. In the very next overseas tour, he found himself warming the bench whilst Jadeja played as the lone spinner. Poor Kuldeep, not the first one to be duped by the team management and definitely not the last. With Kohli hinting the team favouring “batting depth” and now with the possibility of India playing five bowlers - especially three spinners - looking bleak, it is hard to see Kuldeep Yadav feature in the team any time soon. To make things worse for the youngster, both Ashwin and Jadeja were at their masterful best as they spun a web around the Proteas batters. Out of the T20I team and now out of the Test team, you’ve got to feel sorry for young Kuldeep.
Rohit Sharma’s critics: While Rohit is, without a shadow of doubt, a legend in limited-overs cricket, his exploits in red-ball cricket has always been questionable. And this decision to promote him to the top order was a desperate last-gasp attempt from the team management to salvage his Test career. And understandably, a few frustrated souls expressed their disappointment with the management’s decision to open with him ahead of Shubman Gill and other domestic stalwarts and had written him off before a single ball was bowled. But “The Hitman”, with his knock(s), made every single one of his critics swallow their words, eat humble pie and admit that he is just too good, at least in home conditions. He became the first Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar to score twin tons and the first ever to score twin tons in the very first match as an opener. In India, Rohit is a force to be reckoned with - irrespective of the format - and like it or not, you will have to deal with it.
Kagiso Rabada: Prior to the series, I, myself, had pointed out how Rabada deserved more respect for his exploits in Test cricket and why despite falling behind the pecking order, he is as good as a Bumrah or Cummins. But sadly, as of this moment, it does look like the speedster is struggling big time and from his performance in Vizag, it is understandable why he has fallen behind Bumrah, Cummins and Archer. Setting the tone early on is such a crucial aspect in Tests but Rabada, in his very first spell of the series, sprayed it all over the pitch, struggling for line, length, and control. Throughout the game, his impact was minimal and all he could manage was a solitary wicket, that of Jadeja who was looking for a wild mid-wicket heave. A couple of performances like these in the next two Tests and Rabada will distance himself further from the aforementioned trio.