Former Indian player Ashish Nehra said that India’s stand-in skipper KL Rahul should motivate his teammates to come hard against South Africa on Day 4 of the second Test.
Indian batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane carried their brilliant performance they left from overnight and stretched their partnership to 111 runs. Both the batters used their immense experience to bail out their team from a tricky situation as they shifted their gears from playing defensively to attacking.
Rahane was the wrecker-in-chief particularly in the first session as he slammed eight boundaries and a six to Marco Jansen, it was very important for him to play that knock after the pressure he was pumped into over his poor batting form.
Both Rahane and Pujara were dismissed by Kagiso Rabada in quick succession with the onus was on Pant to escalate India’s lead in order to set a huge target for the Proteas.
Rabada ended up with figures of 3/77 as Lungi Ngidi (3/43) and Marco Jansen (3/67) supported him to bowl out the visitors at 266 even though Hanuma Vihari led the team’s fightback with an unbeaten 40-run knock.
South Africa need 122 runs to win the second Test in Johannesburg with eight wickets
India set the Proteas a target of 240 as their opener Aiden Markram, who has been under fire throughout the series, showed great intent as he stroked array of boundaries against Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
Makram seemed unstoppable with his free-flowing shots as he raced to 31 runs from 38 balls. Shardul Thakur, who nabbed seven wickets for India in the first innings, once again came to the team’s rescue as he trapped the South African opener before the wicket for LBW.
Keegan Petersen carried his form in the second innings as he built partnership with his skipper Dean Elgar and smashed a couple of boundaries against Bumrah’s bowling. The right-handed batter was adjudged LBW off Ravichandran Ashwin’s sharp off-breaker.
South Africa were 118/2 at the end of the gameplay of Day 3 Elgar remaining undefeated on 46 despite taking some nasty blows on his body in the final few overs.
Motivating the team is most important for KL Rahul: Ashish Nehra
Former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra said that India needs to rethink about their fielding positions and bowl tightly. The former Indian pacer wants KL Rahul to motivate his teammates to win the game.
“Rassie van der Dussen had just come in, the conditions were difficult, it’s not like the batter had scored a lot of runs and KL Rahul had a deep point for him! They’ll have to rethink this. It’s different if you are leaking a lot of singles and fours from that position, like with the Dean Elgar-Aiden Markram partnership. But here it was a new batter. Ravichandran Ashwin also troubled Rassie van der Dussen but even for him, he (Rahul) had kept a long-on, a deep mid-wicket and a deep square-leg at one moment. You should attack a bit more there because it isn’t easy to hit Ravichandran Ashwin over the top on this wicket,” Nehra said on Cricbuzz.
“Apart from the field setting factor, the most important responsibility for him to do is, in Virat Kohli’s absence, to motivate the team. Even for tomorrow, bowling changes aren’t that important… motivating the team is most important.
“You might take 2 wickets in the first five overs, then there won’t be any need for motivation. But if that doesn’t happen and 20 more runs are scored, then you see disappointed faces and lowered shoulders – at that point there will be a huge role of captaincy and responsibility will lie with KL Rahul.”
“South Africa will be very happy at this moment. We talked about how the pitch doesn’t play tricks immediately after getting rolled upon and how the batting team loses wickets near the end of a session.
“That cluster of wickets which India was waiting for didn’t come this time. But you have got two wickets… it’s not like South Africa is very ahead in the game because of the way this pitch has behaved so far, no batter is set here,” he added.
The Proteas need 122 runs more to win with Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen will resume their innings while India need eight wickets to clinch their first Test series win in South Africa.