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IND vs SA | KL Rahul hints India may use five bowler combination saying the tactic has helped team in overseas

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KL Rahul will be the vice-captain for the South Africa series

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IND vs SA | KL Rahul hints India may use five bowler combination saying the tactic has helped team in overseas

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SportsCafe Desk

12/25/2021

India opener, KL Rahul has hinted that India might use a five bowling combination ahead of India’s tour to South Africa saying that the tactic has worked for the team in Test matches away from home. He also added that the workload becomes slightly easier to manage with five quality bowlers.

India are scheduled to tour South Africa for three Tests starting from December 26 and will be eyeing a maiden Test series win. The team will be confident ahead of the tour especially, with their overseas success this year. Rohit Sharma will miss the Test series due to a hamstring injury and KL Rahul has been appointed as the vice-captain of the team ahead of the series. 

India have played five bowlers in each of their last 15 Tests, but with Ravindra Jadeja injured and out of the tour it will be interesting to see whether team management decides to play four or five bowlers in the team. India’s vice-captain KL Rahul has suggested that five bowlers remain the preferred option for the series.

"I think more teams have started playing [five bowlers], because, you know, every team wants to pick up 20 wickets, and that's the only way you can win a Test match. We've definitely used that tactic, and it's helped us in every Test match that we've played away from India. I think the workload also becomes slightly easier to manage with five bowlers, and when you have that kind of quality, you might as well use it." Rahul said while addressing a press conference. 

If India uses the five bowlers combination, it might mean that one of the specialist batsmen will have to sit out. Middle order is already stacked with senior batsmen in the team. The number 5 position might be a three-way battle between Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari. Rahane has been out of from since a long time now while Iyer was impressive in his debut series against New Zealand. Hanuma Vihari also played well recently in the series against South Africa ‘A’.  Rahul has said it will be very hard choice to make.

"Look, it is a very, very difficult decision to make, obviously. Ajinkya has been a very important part of our Test team and has played very, very crucial knocks in his career. The last 15-18 months, if I can think back, his knock in Melbourne was really really crucial; it helped us win a Test match. That partnership with [Cheteshwar] Pujara at Lord's in the second innings where he got a fifty was really important, and that ended up in us winning the Test match. So he's been a key player for us in the middle order, and he's a very, very strong player,” he explained. 

"Shreyas obviously has taken his chances. He played a brilliant knock in Kanpur, got a hundred; so he's very exciting. And Hanuma has done the same for us, so yeah, it's a tough decision. But we'll start having a chat today or tomorrow, and you'll get to know [the No. 5] in a couple of days' time."

Reflecting on the playing conditions in South Africa, Rahul opined that the pitches can be spongy in the first couple of days and start to quicken up. 

"I haven't played a lot of games here in South Africa, but from my experience, I think sometimes the pitches can be a little bit challenging because of the tennis-ball bounce. We've played in Australia where the pitches are fast and bouncy, but here it can be a bit spongy in the first couple of days, and then it starts to quicken up. So when I played last time, each time the wicket was a bit difficult, and you had to understand and adjust according to that, so that becomes a huge challenge for both batters and bowlers,” he stated. 

The first Test of the series will be played in Centurion. South Africa fast bowler Duanne Olivier had suggested that pitch will be slow to start but will quicken up later. Rahul echoed the same thoughts saying that Olivier will know these playing conditions a lot better. 

"Look, I think Duanne Olivier will know these conditions a lot better than us. Yes, even the last time we played here, the wicket started off a bit slow and then quickened up, and then got slow again. I think from whatever information we can gather about the Centurion pitch, it's been that kind of a pitch. And even in the centre-wicket practice, we experienced the same things, and we tried to prepare accordingly,” he concluded.

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