Virat Kohli defends his decision of picking Rohit Sharma over Ajinkya Rahane in 1st Test

Ajinkya Rahane is the only batsman from the Indian squad to perform consistently well outside of Asia with an average of 53.44

Virat Kohli and Co’s defeat against South Africa in the first Test at the Newlands, Capetown was no less than a lesson when it comes to dealing with bouncy overseas conditions. Despite a decent performance from the Indian pacers, the batsmen failed terribly against the home bowling attack and lost the game by 72 runs. Kohli’s decision of inducting Rohit Sharma instead of Ajinkya Rahane didn’t work for the team. Despite being the leading run-getter for India on the overseas platform, he was dropped for the game. Rohit could only score 21 runs in two innings.

When this decision was questioned in the post-match press conference, Indian skipper Virat Kohli explained that the team management “decided to go on the current form”. He said,

Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka. So, we decided to go on current form.

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“These things can always be looked at in hindsight – thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.

Indeed Rohit Sharma enjoyed his purple patch while batting against the Lankans in the 3-match series at home. However, his bat didn’t do much on the South African soil as he couldn’t perform in both the innings. In the first, Kagiso Rabada dismissed him and he was given LBW while in the second, Vernon Philander hunted him down and bowled him out. He could score only 11 and 10 runs respectively in the two innings.

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As far as Rahane’s overseas performance is concerned, he has an excellent average of  53.44 in away conditions. He is also the only batsman from the Indian squad to perform consistently well outside of Asia. The last time when India visited South Africa, Rahane remained the third highest scorer after Kohli and Pujara.

Now the Proteas lead the series by 1-0. If India need to remain alive in the series then they have to bounce back in the rest of the two games. The 2nd Test match will begin on January 13 in Centurion.