India’s strong batting line-up failed to shine in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town as the visitors suffered a 72-run defeat. With series on the line, critics questioned whether Virat Kohli-led side needs to make changes in the team set-up in the second Test in Centurion. The decision to select Rohit Sharma over vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane came under much criticism while cricketing pundits also called for bringing in KL Rahul for Shikhar Dhawan.
After losing the toss for the second time in a row in Centurion, the Indian captain announced that the side has decided to go with KL Rahul for Shikhar Dhawan, while wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel replaced an injured Wriddhiman Saha. In a surprise move, India also decided to sit out Bhuvneshwar Kumar and brought in Ishant Sharma in the playing XI.
Speaking on the team selection, former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar said that Dhawan is being made to be the “scapegoat”. “I think Shikhar Dhawan is the ‘Bali ka Bakra’ (scapegoat). His head is always on the chopping board. He just needs one bad innings and he is out of the team,” he said.
Gavaskar also slammed the decision to rest Bhuvneshwar who took six wickets in the first Test and was one of the best bowlers for the side. “I also don’t understand why Ishant came in for Bhuvneshwar when he had taken three wickets on the opening day at Cape Town. Ishant could have replaced Shami or Bumrah but leaving him out, I don’t understand,” the cricketer-turned-commentator said.
With a 1-0 deficit in the series, the visitors need to win the second Test to keep their hopes of registering their first away series victory against Proteas.