A fantastic bowling display notwithstanding, the second day’s play at Christchurch ended in a confusing state with regards to its outcome. It also highlighted the confusion, batting-wise, that sits cheek by jowl with the Indian team when they are playing away from home against a quality bowling attack.
· Ajinkya Rahane’s batting was an epitome of confusion. He is one player who can play the moving ball. But during his patchy 43-ball stay at the crease on Sunday, Rahane looked a pale shadow of his former self. He has a tight defence, but Rahane seemed to be caught in the quagmire of striking the right balance between attack and defence. As he got stuck for a while, the Indian team vice-captain suddenly decided to go for some horizontal-bat shots without much conviction. Eventually, he tapped a short ball from Neil Wagner onto the stumps.
· Virat Kohli’s dismissal was an action replay of the first innings. This time, Colin de Grandhomme made one break back to trap the India captain leg-before. Kohli is affected by the common problem for an out-of-form batsman; a clear idea about the off stump. Legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar have gone through this phase. Their ability to bounce back defined their careers. Kohli has hit a slump after a long time. The world would be watching how he handles this.
· Openers Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal also exposed their batting weakness. Like in the first innings, Shaw got out to a short ball while Agarwal couldn’t handle the ball that came in. Bowlers around the world now know what to bowl when they are up against the Indian openers.
· Sending Umesh Yadav as night-watchman beggared belief. The team management ostensibly tried to protect Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant. In conditions where top-order batsmen had been struggling, sending a tail-ender ahead of two specialist batters defied logic.
· Team selection in both Tests highlighted the fact how overseas conditions, green-tops and lateral movement sucked the swagger dry and made the team confused. For a specialist’s position like wicketkeeping, picking Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Saha bordered on the atrocious. It just attested the team management’s uncertainty about the whole batting line-up. Today, Pant conceded 20 byes, 12 of would have been saveable by a top-class ‘keeper like Saha. And Pant is not batting like Adam Gilchrist either. Also, Ravindra Jadeja showed what India had missed in the first Test. Apart from his two wickets, Jadeja’s fielding – both ground fielding and catching – had been a reason why India managed to secure a first-innings lead.
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