India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli explains the reason for picking Umesh Yadav over Hanuma Vihari in Pune Test

India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli explains the reason for picking Umesh Yadav over Hanuma Vihari in Pune Test

Many were surprised after to see Vihari being left out.

Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The second Test match of the Gandhi-Mandela Freedom Trophy is currently underway at the M.C.A Stadium in Pune. After having registered an easy 203-run-win in the first match at Visakhapatnam, India are batting first after winning the toss and entered the game as the favourites.

The last time there was a Test match at the venue, India were knocked over by the left-arm spin of Steve O’Keefe and a batting masterclass by the then Aussie captain Steve Smith, on a dustbowl masquerading as a Test match pitch. The 333-run defeat is India’s sole loss under Virat Kohli’s leadership at home.

The pitch at that time had garnered widespread criticism from fans and pundits and also earned a ‘poor’ rating from the International Cricket Council (ICC). So, naturally heading into the Test, all eyes were on the pitch that the curator would dish out. And, the only question as far as the Indian team was concerned was will they continue with the same template of six batters + keeper + 2 spinners + 2 seamers or will they add another pacer to their set-up? 

Strengthening our bowling all-round

The mystery was finally solved. India’s captain Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first, signalling that they have added Umesh Yadav, considering the pitch was hard and reverse-swing might come into play. They also wanted to have an attacking 5th bowling option in the mix. That meant the highest run-scorer of the West Indies series, Hanuma Vihari had to make way.

“It’s good to win the toss and bat first, the wicket is probably best for batting on the first day and a half, it eventually turns from day 2 and 3. Hanuma Vihari misses out, Umesh Yadav replaces him. The surface is a bit hard here (hence) still keeping a fifth attacking option to back Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami. Just strengthening our bowling all round,” he said.

And, considering how the pitch has played thus far, having offered early seam movement besides offering a great carry- vindicated by Rabada’s dismissal of Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara, it might prove to be a prudent decision. South Africa too handed a Test debut to Anrich Nortje in place of off-spinner Dane Piedt. For the uninitiated, Umesh Yadav has the most number of wickets (50)  for an Indian pacer at home since the start of 2016.

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