SA vs IND – 2nd Test Johannesburg



Question marks remain over Siraj’s availability for the decider after he picked up a hamstring niggle at the Wanderers

Regular India Test captain Virat Kohli, who missed the second Johannesburg Test with back spasms, should be back for the decider in Cape Town with the series tied 1-1.
“Virat is feeling better already, he’s been in the nets last couple of days and he’s been fielding and running around on the field,” stand-in captain KL Rahul said after India’s seven-wicket loss on the fourth day. “I think he should be fine.”
Later, at the press conference, head coach Rahul Dravid spoke on similar lines. “From all accounts, he should be fine,” Dravid said. “He’s had the opportunity to run around a little bit, he’s had the opportunity to test it a little bit, I’ll be down only now at the moment in the nets with a few throwdowns and stuff, so hopefully with a few net sessions in Cape Town, he should be good to go.

“I haven’t had a detailed discussion with the physio as yet, but from everything I’m hearing and from just having a chat with him, he’s really improving and should be good to go in four days’ time.”

If Kohli comes back, it could mean that Hanuma Vihari, who impressed with an unbeaten 40 in India’s second innings, could return to the bench. With India continuing to back their senior batters, the likes of Vihari and Shreyas Iyer – who made a Test century on debut in November, but was out of contention with a stomach bug in Johannesburg – have had to bide their time for playing opportunities.

Dravid was full of praise for Vihari – making mention even of his first-innings contribution when he made a solid start before getting caught at short leg off a steep lifter – but said young players have always had to wait their turn in international cricket.

“Firstly I think Vihari played really well in this Test match, in both innings in fact,” Dravid said. “I think in the first innings he got a nasty one, unfortunately for him it popped up and the fielder got his fingertips to it and took a really good catch, and he batted beautifully in the second innings, so that gives us a lot of confidence.

“Shreyas has also done that two or three Test matches ago, he’s got runs as well, and I think they’ve just got to take heart from the fact that whenever they’re getting the opportunities they are doing well, and hopefully their time will come. You look back on some of our guys who are now considered senior players, they also had to wait their time.

“They also had to score a lot of runs, they’ve had, at the start of their careers, it’s probably been a bit stop-start as well. So it happens. It’s just the nature of the sport, it’s the nature of the game, and it will happen, so I think they can take heart [from their performances] and we can take a lot of confidence from the way Vihari batted in this game, he really played well, that should give him a lot of confidence, and it certainly gives us a lot of confidence.”

Ahead of the third Test, there remains a question mark over pacer Mohammed Siraj, who went down in this Test with hamstring trouble and could bowl only 15.5 overs out of the 147.2 India sent down. “Siraj, we’ll have to monitor him over the next couple of days,” Rahul said. “He’s been feeling better with each day, he’s starting to get more and more confident with his bowling, especially with what happened on the field with his hamstring, it’s not easy to come back from that and go 100% straightaway.”

If Siraj is not fit, India have back-up in the experienced Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for the match, which starts on January 11.


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