Indians unhappy with practice pitches at Wanderers

[caption id="attachment_61998" align="alignnone" width="580"]DSC08820 Heavy roller being rolled over the practice wickets at Wanderers as the Indians complained about dampness. Image Source: Xtra Time[/caption]

Debasis Sen, Johannesburg: The ensuing tour of South Africa by Virat Kohli and his boys has attracted headlines for all the wrong reasons. Apart from the series loss, it has been a woeful outings for batsmen. Adding to it the selection of the playing XI for both the Cape Town and Centurion test has been debatable Debatable. The latest in that line is Indian team's grouse against practice pitches on offer at the Wanderers, venue of the third and final Test from Wednesday (January 24).

The Indian team management on Monday did not seem to be happy with the practice pitches at Wanderers. The Head Coach of the Indian team Ravi Shastri after being informed by his batting assistant Sanjay Bangar, instructed the curator Butuel Buthelezi to roll the practice pitches again as it seemed to be a little damp. The Indian captain Virat Kohli was also seen having a chat with umpire Ian Gould who would be officiating in the third and final test match starting from Wednesday.

The Indian team batting coach Sanjay Bangar was giving practice to the fast bowlers when he noticed the dampness on the practice wickets and accordingly conveyed it to Shastri. Buthelezi immediately ordered the heavy roller to be rolled on the wickets.

Meanwhile, the team management is in a dilemma with the opening order ahead of the test match. None of the three openers – KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay made an impact top of the order. The four opening partnerships have yielded 16, 30, 28 and 11, meaning Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have been forced to face the new ball earlier than they would have liked.

The team management after trying out Dhawan-Vijay combination in the Cape Town test match, switched over to Rahul-Vijay combo, but it yielded the same result. With neither opening pair clicking, the Indian management will have a hard time figuring out the openers for the Wanderers Test, where the pitch is expected to be hard, bouncy and assist seam movement. Rahul and Dhawan were the first to bat in the nets on Monday, but Vijay went in later to bat for a long time. All of them practised slip catching too; so it seems the Indian management will not take the final call before looking at the pitch for a final time.

It will be interesting to see if the Indians go in with an all seam attack. The bowlers – Md. Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav all had an extended net session with the bats in the beginning. Batting coach Sanjay Bangar was seen giving them short ball practice. It is likely that three among the four will play along with Jasprit Bumrah with Hardik Pandya playing in as an all-rounder. It is almost certain thatRavichandran Ashwin will miss out the final test match of the series. Left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja may be the lone spinner in the side if the team management feels the need of it. Jadeja had a long session both with the bat and ball at the nets. He will then replace Rohit Sharma who looked off colour at the practice session today.

Parthiv Patel will most likely get another opportunity along with Cheteshwar Pujara, who faced the wrath of the team management after running himself out in both innings of the Centurion test.

With still another practice session left ahead of the test match, the team management will have another look at the 22 yards before deciding on the final XI.


India (likely): Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan/KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Md Shami and Ishant Sharma

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