Shaun Pollock criticised India’s approach in the Test matches even as the visitors won the ODI series on Tuesday. Prior to India’s commanding win in limited over matches, the Virat Kohli-captained side was beaten 2-1 in the Test matches. Most of all, former South Africa was critical of India’s lack of preparation and poor show with the bat.
“I was a little bit surprised by their batting. When they came on this tour I thought it was going to be their strength. I was a bit disappointed by the way they went (in the Test series),” Pollock said. “Looking back, I think they have identified that preparation-wise they needed to be here for more time. I suppose it goes down to what are the actual goals you want to achieve. If you want to win Test series away from home, then you have to give them more priority. And priority means more preparation.”
“I think going out to England, we have heard some guys are going to play county cricket. So preparation wise I think they will be better equipped when they go there or to Australia,” said the former all-rounder.
The legendary all rounder stated India should have planned the tour better to allow players to get some time before the Test series. India lost the first two Tests in the series before returning to win the third.
“We have seen they are now settled in ODIs. Probably they could have structured the tour better and had ODIs before Tests, and that could have been better preparation for India,” said Pollock. “I think practice matters. You need to have two practice matches and have a guarantee that you are genuinely good opposition than just developing players. You have to set your goals.”
India arrived in South Africa and didn’t play any practice games after it was cancelled. Instead, India readied themselves for the series with practice sessions. “Is it a great thing to win the ODI series or is it a great achievement to come and win a Test series in South Africa, which you haven’t done? Maybe that’s where the priorities haven’t met the same preparation.”
‘No one supported Kohli in Tests’
Kohli has been an important element in India’s dominant showing in the ODIs with 429 runs to emerge as the top scorer after five matches. He was also the only batsman between the two teams to score a hundred during the Test series.
“I saw an interview at the start of the tour and he was talking about backing himself in these conditions. That positivity and approach paid off for me. He wasn’t fearful of the conditions and he wanted to grind out performances. He obviously came here with the right mindset. I thought the rest of the batting group would have been similar, but there wasn’t anyone else who supported him particularly in the Tests,” said Pollock.
Pollock brought in a comparison with Malcolm Marshall that he said applies to the leadership abilities displayed by Kohli where he respects the opposition but wants to come out on top from a battle. “I am not saying aggression is what he is offering, but it’s more the attitude that I can back myself, win the battle and come out on top. Malcolm Marshall taught me to have a great respect for the opposition but also to have a great self-belief that wherever you come up against them, you respect them but you win the battle.”
‘Pandya will get long run in the team’
Pollocks reckons Kohli sees a bit of himself in the attitude and confidence displayed by Hardik Pandya. Keeping that in mind, Pandya could get a longer length of the yardstick to cement his place in the side. “I clearly get the impression that Virat Kohli loves Hardik Pandya’s attitude. It’s very similar to the way Kohli plays his cricket. And because he loves that attitude there is a good chance that Pandya will get a long run in the side, to settle himself and cement his spot in the team,” said Pollock.
“That’s the nature of cricket. If the captain likes the way a player goes about his business then that player will get an extra run (of opportunities),” said South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in Tests.
With tours to England and Australia to follow this year, Pollock believed Pandya could showcase his talent and learnings to justify his regular selection. “I liked Pandya’s attitude and approach in the Cape Town Test, the way he played that knock, and he is learning. He will be ultra-positive in Indian conditions where he can take on the spinners. Lot of people have got potential, but to take that to the next level is always the key. He will learn the art of what he needs to do in England and Australia. He still needs to find how he wants to play, mix his aggression with sound technique and if he can get himself in for a period of time then I am sure he can learn.”
Kuldeep-Chahal combination for World Cup
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav picked 30 wickets between them in the ODI series and gave South Africa little chance. With the duo replacing the previous choice of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Pollock remained wary of the plan working out for the 2019 World Cup in England. “If you look at their ODI statistics, Kuldeep (Yadav) averages under 20 and has 38 wickets. (Yuzvendra) Chahal is pretty similar, averaging 22 and their economy rate is fantastic. But can they win the World Cup for India in England?
“It’s fantastic that you have a tour there to be able to judge what performance they give. You don’t always get surfaces that hold up and turn in England. I think that’s the challenge for India. They need to work out whether those two can be relied upon to go all the way through in a big tournament.”
“India were good in the 2017 Champions Trophy but that was a different time of the year. And they played with same pitches over and over again, which meant that they started to hold up and grip. So that’s why I think India’s tour to England is important. The World Cup is only a year away and you will be able to gauge whether those two wrist spinners (together) will work or not,” stated Pollock.