Former Indian player Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that India’s defeat to South Africa in the second Test in Johannesburg was their first loss in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli.
Since Virat Kohli took the reins of Test captaincy from MS Dhoni in 2015, he has missed a total of seven games for India including the recent Test in Johannesburg.
Kohli couldn’t make it to the playing XI in the second Test as he suffered an upper back spasm and opener KL Rahul led the team in his absence.
India lost the first Test in Virat Kohli’s absence
Ajinkya Rahane, who was India’s previous Test vice-captain, has led the team on six instances whenever Kohli wasn’t available to play for India in the longest format.
Rahane, interestingly, had never lost a Test as a captain and his remarkable achievement was winning the Test series in Down Under 2-1 last year despite India going 0-1 down in Adelaide.
KL Rahul was named the vice-captain of the Test squad as senior player Rohit Sharma is recovering from a hamstring injury.
Rahul couldn’t taste victory in his first captaincy role as India lost to South Africa by seven wickets in Johannesburg.
Field placements also could have been a little bit sharper: Sunil Gavaskar On KL Rahul’s Captaincy
South Africa rode on their skipper Dean Elgar’s coattails as the opener led the 240-run chase, the highest by any team at the Wanderers. Elgar deployed his resolute defensive game that saw him taking too many blows on his body but yet he remained unbeaten on 96 from 188 balls.
Gavaskar said that India leaked too many singles to Elgar in the start of the fourth innings and held Rahul accountable for not setting the appropriate field to defend the score.
“This is the first time actually where India have lost a Test where Virat Kohli isn’t playing. They won most of the matches where Kohli didn’t play and there was a draw in Sydney. But coming to KL Rahul, I thought giving Dean Elgar those singles at the start of the second innings was making his life a little bit easier. He is not one of the hookers of the ball hence keeping two man in the deep made no sense. He was instead taking singles quite comfortably,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports.
“The field placements also could have been a little bit sharper. Some of the attempts were below par. But not taking anything away from the South Africans, it was they who won the game. I don’t think the Indians lost it,” he added.
Kohli will return for the series decider in Cape Town as confirmed by head coach Rahul Dravid and KL Rahul, who led India in Kohli’s absence in the second Test.
India will play against South Africa in the third Test at the Newlands in Cape Town, the match begins on January 11.