There was a time when England, Australia and South Africa tried to scare our batsmen by making green tops but now the whole scenario has changed. Now these teams will think before making green top against India because they know that they may fall while trying to dig a pit for others. Now this tour will start from Boxing Day in South Africa. I don’t think South Africa will prepare purely green top pitches in this series as there is a possibility of them getting stuck on it. I think Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammad Siraj are going to be our three frontline bowlers. Bumrah’s performance on foreign pitches has been phenomenal. Australia did not have Siraj’s database, so his bowling was effective on Australian pitches. Shami also proved in the T20 World Cup recently that he is a class bowler. His bowling can prove to be an asset in South Africa as well. Ishant Sharma is out of form. Well he is experienced but his experience is rarely visible on the field these days. R. Ashwin should definitely be included in the team.
You can play Jayant Yadav in the absence of Jadeja and Akshar Patel in the third Test in Cape Town. At present you have no option but to play Shardul Thakur but Shardul still requires lot of hard work. I have also scored a half-century but that doesn’t make me an all-rounder. It will take time for Shardul to become a complete all-rounder.
The big problem is whether our three frontline bowlers will be able to maintain their fitness in all three Tests. It used to be 25-30 years ago when fast bowlers were played even in 80 percent fitness, but today it is very important for every player to be completely fit. The absence of a left-arm fast bowler in the team also puts a question mark on our complete team. The left fast bowler makes a footmark on the pitch, which benefits the spinners. Harbhajan Singh and later R Ashwin took great advantage of left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan’s footmark making. If the team had a left-arm fast bowler on this tour, Ashwin would have particularly taken advantage of him.
The writer is a former India fast bowler and now a cricket expert.