With a target of 208 to chase down in the final innings, team India must have fancied their chances of going one up in the series. An opening run partnership of 30 between Dhawan and Vijay was not the biggest, but it was sufficient enough to give India a decent base to start their chase.
But eventually, the lack of partnerships cost India, as the likes of Pujara, Kohli and Rohit failed to put up the runs on the board.
One of the biggest decisions that Kohli had to take on the eve on the first test match was to pick one of Rohit or Rahane in the starting XI.
While Rahane has been India’s most consistent performer overseas, his form over the last 12 months has been far below his usual standards. On the other hand, Rohit Sharma scored a bulk load of runs in the latter half of 2017, and had earned his spot in the test XI.
Kohli eventually went with Rohit, which meant that Rahane, who is the vice-captain in the test format, had to sit out of the first test match. Pundits and fans were shocked, as no one expected Kohli to bench someone who had an average of 53.44 in test matches overseas.
Even on his previous tour to South Africa, Rahane scored 209 runs at an impressive average of 52.25, which is why his exclusion was all the more surprising.
But after Rohit failed to perform in Cape Town, Kohli will surely be under pressure to play Rahane in Durban. India cannot afford to lose the second test match, which is why the team management must consider bringing back Ajinkya Rahane.
In the post match press conference after the first test, Kohli spoke about the reasons why he picked Rohit over Rahane.
“Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” said Kohli in the post-match media conference.
“These things can always be looked at in hindsight – thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.
Kohli and Shastri will have to think about their combination for the next match, as India should expect a similar track at Durban. While Steyn will miss the series, the likes of Morkel, Philander and Rabada are more than enough to knock over the Indian batsmen.
Hardik Pandya’s performance was a huge plus for the side, and has certainly nailed his place in the second test match. With the likes of Rahane and KL Rahul on the sidelines, India certainly have options to pick from if they do decide to freshen things up.