‘India would’ve won series in SA twice but for this bloke’: Shastri on live TV | Cricket

By admin Dec26,2023

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri said this is India’s best chance of winning a Test series for the first time in South Africa. Not because they have a better team than the hosts, who appear slightly more inexperienced than their previous sides but because they are missing the services of Vernon Philander. Shastri said India would have won at least two Test series in South Africa if Philander wasn’t there. Shastri may have made the comments in a light-hearted manner but he is not entirely wrong.

Ravi Shastri doing the pitch report of India vs South Africa 1st Test

“This is India’s best chance, you know why? Because this bloke is not playing,” Shastri said pointing towards Philander, who was standing beside the former India head coach during the pre-match show for Star Sports.

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Philander has an excellent record against India at home. He has played five Tests against the touring Indian sides in 2013 and 2018. Two in 2013 and three in 2018. In those five Tests, the right-arm medium pacer, who was lethal with the new ball, picked up as many as 25 wickets at an average of 18.

The fact that he was a part of a bowling attack that had the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, made it even more difficult for the Indian batters. He was the perfect foil to Steyn’s pace and Morkel’s bounce. If Steyn challenged both edges of the batters and Morkel softened them up with steep bounce, Philander nibbled the ball both ways from a nagging length to trap the batters.

“We would have beaten South Africa at least twice when I came here but for this fellow. We’ve seen Rabada’s record, Ngidi’s record. Take a look at his record as well against India. He always gets the important wickets when we don’t want one to fall,” Shastri said.

Shastri was the head coach of the Indian side in 2018 when India lost 1-2. Philander was one of the top performers in that series with 15 wickets to his name. Philander announced his retirement in 2019. In his 64 Tests, the skilful bowler 224 wickets at an outstanding average of 22.

South Africa remains the only country where India haven’t yet won a Test series. They have won only four Tests in 23 attempts.

As far as this two-match series is concerned, South Africa won the toss and sent India in to bat in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion. The start of play was delayed by 30 minutes because of damp patches on the pitch, which had been covered since Sunday while a reported 51mm of rain fell.

“The wicket has been under cover for the past two days and there is a bit of moisture in the wicket, so we would like to make use of it,” said South African captain Temba Bavuma.

South Africa opted for an all-seam attack and included two debutants in batsman David Bedingham and left-arm fast bowler Nandre Burger.

Bavuma said fast bowler Lungi Ngidi had recovered from an ankle injury but was not considered match fit.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma said he was not sure about whether he wanted to bat or bowl.

“There is a bit of grass and some moisture. We understand the challenge of batting first but we know what to expect.”

India gave a first Test cap to fast bowler Prasidh Krishna, while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was preferred to left-armer Ravindra Jadeja, who Sharma said suffered a neck spasm earlier in the morning.

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