India missed out on an opportunity to seal their first Test series victory on the South African soil in Johannesburg as they lost at the Wanderers in the second Test against Proteas. Having set a target of 240, the Indian pace attack could not extract much from the wickets like South Africa did in the second innings, and former Indian batter Gautam Gambhir highlighted the mistakes that caused the downfall.
The injury to Mohammad Siraj did not help the cause as it straight away meant that India were one pacer short and it made a huge difference. Dean Elgar led the chase for the South African team with a mind-blowing unbeaten knock of 96 while the other batter chipped in with decent contributions. The series is now leveled at 1-1 with all the focus now shifting towards the third Test at Cape Town.
“India missed a fourth seamer”, reckons Gautam Gambhir
Gambhir mentioned that KL Rahul did not have enough options to rotate the pacers with Mohammad Siraj injured and highlighted it to be a bigger problem. He added that Siraj could have boosted the pace attack and noted about the pitch denying any assistance to R Ashwin as a lead spinner. Mohammed Shami picked up the only wicket to fall on the fourth day.
“India missed a fourth seamer. If Mohammed Siraj would have been 100 per cent fit then the captain would have been able to rotate his two key pacers better. And you know that once the ball gets wet, it won’t help Ashwin anymore.
“So literally, you were playing with just three pacers. And when you expect only three pacers to pick the remaining eight wickets, you can’t expect any of them to have an off day. So had Siraj been fit, we would have seen a better performance from the pace attack,” Gambhir told to Star Sports as quoted by Hindustan Times.
Gambhir also noted the strength of Bumrah and Shami to be with the fuller deliveries rather than the short pitch stuff. Both the pacers tried to get the batters edging towards the slip cordon but instead, were driven through the covers most often.
“You want you pace bowlers to test the opposition batters with short balls. But when South Africa pacers were bowling, they had more height, and hence did not have to press enough. You can expect that from Bumrah, but these kind of deliveries do not come naturally to Shami and hence most of his short-pitched deliveries went over the keeper’s head. Bumrah’s strength too lies in fuller deliveries,” Gambhir added.