South Africa are in danger of losing their grip on India’s first innings after taking only one wicket in the final session on day one.
SuperSport analysts Neil McKenzie, Kepler Wessels and Eric Simons had their say on the first day of the fourth Test in New Delhi, which India ended on 231-7.
On India’s innings
Simons: ‘I still think it’s a 230 wicket. South Africa have dropped a catch, they’ve had a catch turned down; India could have been out for around 220/230, so I think at this point the game is evenly poised in terms of the runs on the board, but of course India still have wickets in hand. If India get to 250-plus, it will really start to go in their favour. It’s not a bad wicket at all, but I don’t think it’s a wicket where batsmen feel in and chances are created. I think the final session hurt South Africa’s cause significantly.
On the dropped catches
Wessels: ‘Hashim Amla has caught a couple of good ones during the series and in standing up to the spinners he has been quite good, but today just wasn’t his day. He caught the first one and it was a bit of a reflex catch, but the two he dropped; he just didn’t look like he picked it up. His hands were very hard and that was the problem.’
The use of Imran Tahir
Simons: ‘It has to be a lack of confidence on some level. South Africa have had India under pressure and it’s the perfect time for him to bowl and yet Amla has been very reluctant. Short spells are not the answer for a leg-spinner. In my mind you have two options: You either don’t play him or you play him and find a way to bowl him. I have no doubt it’s putting pressure on Imran Tahir to know that he’s got two overs to impress, otherwise he’s off. Two overs is not enough for a leg-spinner, particularly someone who we know has got it, but you have to unlock it.’
Wessels: ‘I think it’s the fear of conceding runs and the fear of the pressure disappearing off the batting line-up. So if he is your No 1 spinner and you want him to be your match-winner, then you have to back him, otherwise don’t play him.’
McKenzie: ‘A few that have captained Imran Tahir have said that he doesn’t control the game. But I agree, you have to find a way to use him. There is no-one better to clean batsman eight to 11 than Imran Tahir.’