New Delhi: If Rohit Sharma is getting a Test nod ahead of vice-captain Ajnkya Rahane based on current form, then why was that criterion overlooked when captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri decided to replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Ishant Sharma in the eleven for the second Test against South Africa? That's the question which left some bemused and some enraged when the India captain revealed his eleven at the toss in Centurion on Saturday.
India made three changes in the eleven: Wicketkeeper Wridhhiman Saha had a niggle and was replaced by Parthiv Patel. That was the only forced replacement. The other two seriously challenged the limits of logic.
Shikhar Dhawan (16, 16) had a forgettable first Test and thus was considered out of form. He made way for KL Rahul. But Bhuvneshwar was in form (4/87 and 2/33), struck once each in his first three overs of the first Test, set it up for India. Still, he was asked to warm the bench and allow Ishant Sharma use his height to extract more bounce. Bounce? Isn't it what South Africans batsmen grow up on? Quite certainly Bhuvneshwar's swing gave enough evidence that it will be the more potent weapon in the series.
And rightly so then, some of the experts asked why Ishant needs to replace Bhuvneshwar. If it was so much required to bring him in, then why not in place of Mohammed Shami or Jasprit Bumrah. Yes, they bowled brilliantly in the second innings at Newlands. But is that reason to overlook what Bhuvneshwar did in the first?
Dhawan's case was also a curious one, as he too was in brilliant form at home against Sri Lanka, just like Rohit, who, like Dhawan, also had a torrid time in Newlands. Rohit made 11 and 10 at Newlands. So why not make another change and bring in Rahane to take Rohit's place! Doesn't it reek of bias on the Indian team management's part?
All these questions were raised by voices of experts and fans alike on Twitter.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first Test in Cape Town:
- As a bowler: Most wickets among Indians (6 wkts); second-most after Philander (9).
- As a batsman: Faced most balls among Indians (127 balls); second-most after ABD (134).
2nd Test? DROPPED. #SAvInd
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) January 13, 2018
Bhuvneshwar Kumar dropped, means Jasprit Bumrah takes the new ball. Not only was Bhuvi India's best bowler in Cape Town, he also lasted longer at the crease than ANYONE else: 127 balls: #SAvIND
— Anand Vasu (@anandvasu) January 13, 2018
One day I just want to be a fly on the Indian dressing room’s wall - want to know rationale behind dropping Bhuvneshwar ! And the continued benching of Rahane #INDvSA
— Vikrant Gupta (@vikrantgupta73) January 13, 2018
Pretty sure Virat Kohli dropped Bhuvneshwar just for the laugh potential of watching Ishant Sharma high fiving Parthiv.
— Sorabh Pant (@hankypanty) January 13, 2018
Current form helps Rohit play over Rahane.
No such criteria for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Kohli and his Test selections are another series, overseas. #SAvIND
— Nikhil (@CricCrazyNIKS) January 13, 2018
Imagine being Bhuvneshwar Kumar right now. Picks up wickets, serves as an example for other bowlers and is now dropped #SAvIND
— Arun Venugopal (@scarletrun) January 13, 2018
If recent form was the reason for Rohit Sharma playing over Rahane, pray why was Bhuvneshwar not retained in the XI for Centurion. Afraid, but Virat has been surprising and shocking in his team selection on this tour. Hope it doesn't cost us dear
— G. S. Vivek (@GSV1980) January 13, 2018
Virat Kohli is not happy with wedding gift given Bhuvneshwar & Rahane
— Amar Deshmukh (@legendsachinfan) January 13, 2018
Me right now after hearing Bhuvneshwar makes way for Ishant. And Rohit, STILL in and Rahane, well, Rehene De yaar! Given up trying to decode what is the formula for selection. #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/5F1lWmi8qA
— Noel D'Souza (@Noel2589) January 13, 2018
However, that's the eleven India have deployed now to get back in the series with a win. But by leaving out an in-form bowler in Bhuvneshwar, the visitors already conceded round one to the hosts, who got off to a good start staying unharmed in the first session at Centurion on Saturday.