Bumrah and Shami are automatic choices in India’s attack: Nehra
A Proteas batting line-up which featured the likes of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, too, had found the going tough when Team India last toured South Africa in early 2018.
The South Africans had won that Test series 2-1, but Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, then a rookie in red-ball cricket, did give them a scare for a fair part of those three games.
This time around, with South African cricket in the doldrums — their batting considerably weakened and India’s pace attack much more lethal and experienced — it would be quite surprising if Virat Kohli and his teammates are unable to emerge victorious in the three-Test series beginning in Centurion from Sunday, believes former left-arm quick Ashish Nehra.
What keeps India well placed is the options in their current pace attack, which has played a massive role, especially in their overseas victories over the last three years.
“Look, I feel Bumrah and Shami are the two automatic choices in India’s pace attack,” Nehra said.
“Talking of the third pacer, Mohammed Siraj could be the guy. Ishant (Sharma) was injured and left out of the second Test versus New Zealand (in Mumbai), while Siraj did fairly well in that game. It also depends on the team management’s thought process and game plan, and who’s looking sharper at nets.
“But the good thing is the number of options India have as far as their pace battery is concerned. They even have someone like Umesh (Yadav), who’s super-experienced now with the number of Test matches (51) he has played so far. So it’s a good situation the team finds itself to be in,” the former India bowler, who played 17 Tests, 120 ODIs and 27 T20Is, told The Telegraph.
“Thanks to the changes the IPL has brought in and its overall effect as well as the fitness regimen of the players, they are stronger and fitter now. And when fitness doesn’t become much of an issue, you have more back-ups.
“In the past, there used to be just two or three good bowlers (in the squad).
But just as one of them got injured, the team would start facing problems. Particularly in Test cricket, having more options is a bigger necessity,” Nehra explained.
Nehra isn’t quite in favour of Shardul Thakur’s inclusion in the XI although the latter has contributed with both bat and ball in a couple of Tests this year. “In England, wickets and conditions are different compared to how they are in South Africa. But yes, if the wicket is such that you need to play four quicks, then India may have a look at Shardul since he can bat a bit as well,” Nehra said.
“Besides, with just two spinners (Ravichandran Ashwin and Jayant Yadav) in the squad, there’s a chance that the team could play three quicks, one spinner and then include Shardul because of his batting abilities, if the situation so demands.”