The decision to go into the first Test against India with only five specialist batsmen was a shocker.
Replacing the injured JP Duminy with a second specialist spinner instead of a specialist batsman like Temba Bavuma was a shocking selection. I don’t know where that came from, but the assessment of the pitch before the game probably prompted the selectors to make the call, especially since nobody could have anticipated Dean Elgar’s impact in India’s first innings.
However, the balance of the side, with Dane Vilas batting at No 6, was all wrong. Vilas doesn’t have a track record, especially in those conditions and Duminy’s expected return for the second Test will restore some much needed balance to the side.
I believe a shortage of specialist batsmen as well as a lack of runs by Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis in both innings were the main reasons South Africa lost the Test.
With Elgar doing a job in the first Test and Duminy back with his off-spin, I would like to see Imran Tahir get the nod ahead of Simon Harmer as the only specialist spinner for the second Test.
Between Tahir, Elgar and Duminy South Africa should have their spin options covered.
A lot has been said about the condition of the pitch in Mohali and I agree; those types of surfaces shouldn’t be allowed. There should be some level of control over the quality of pitches produced for Test cricket.
I thought South Africa’s spinners gave the ball too much air which allowed the Indian batsmen more time to play a shot. The Indian spinners were better and bowled faster, giving batsmen less time to make a decision on how they wanted to play.
But the Proteas spinners under the circumstances did well; they bowled India out twice for decent totals.
If there is one lesson the batsmen should have learned it’s that you can’t just stick around. You have to be positive and play shots. AB de Villiers was a good example of that, especially in the first innings when after starting out slowly, he became much more positive.