India will have only one selection headache going into the third and final Test against South Africa in Cape Town – Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma – in place of injured Mohammed Siraj.
The pace bowler had injured his hamstring during his run-up on the first evening of the Johannesburg Test earlier this week. He bowled only 15.5 overs in the match leaving stand-in skipper KL Rahul with only three pacers to rotate among in the attack. Head coach Rahul Dravid had later admitted that Siraj’s absence hurt India’s strategy in the second Test as the visitors failed to defend 240 runs in the final innings.
Dravid further added that it is difficult to comment on whether Siraj will be available for the Cape Town decider. India hence have two options to choose between for the final Test which begins from January 11 onwards – the very experienced Ishant or the classical outswingers of Umesh.
Former chief selector of the BCCI, MSK Prasad feels that India should go with Ishant owing to the hieght factor, which the Indian pace attack in Johannesburg lacked and where the South African attack gained an advantage.
“We missed a tall fast bowler in Johannesburg and the only one we have is Ishant. On these kind of tracks, he is my choice ahead of Umesh. Had it been an Indian track which is rugged and feels like dustbowl, Umesh would be my ‘go to’ man,” he told PTI.
Former India keeper Deep Dasgupta too picked Ishant, explaining two factors behind his choice, but admitted that the veteran pacer has looked off colour lately.
“I won’t be able to say whether Kohli has the same faith in Ishant’s abilities which he had till 2019. But even then in this game, Ishant, if played, could come in handy compared to Umesh.
“Firstly, with that height, he would hit tougher lengths and secondly because of his ability to keep the batters quiet for long periods of time which unfortunately didn’t happen on a bowler friendly track at the Wanderers,” Dasgupta told PTI.
“Ishant can bowl a good eight to 10 over spell and if we see the trend, a first innings score of 275 is the new 350 in Test matches in these conditions.
“Also Ishant bowls that fourth stump line where the ball can straighten or cut back enough to make the batters play. But yes, team management will check out their practice form too,” Dasgupta.