‘Story could have been different’: Sunil Gavaskar on Ajinkya Rahane factor as IND struggle against SA in 1st Test

India vs South Africa, 1st Test: Day 1 at SuperSport Park stadium, Centurion turned out to be more difficult for India than they imagined. Kagiso Rabada, who is still recovering from his injury was furious with the ball as he used his extreme pace to clinch a fifer against the world’s best batters. As Team India struggled, legendary Indian cricketer, Sunil Gavaskar spoke about the Ajinkya Rahane factor and talked about how things could have been different if the veteran player was present in today’s match.

“People have been talking about the pitch in the Johannesburg Test five years back and I was there. Yeah, it wasn’t the easiest of pitches to bat on the oddball was climbing up. Ajinkya Rahane, who had not been picked for the first two Test matches, was picked for that game and he showed what the Indian team had missed because earlier on in the first couple of Test matches India did not lose by big margins,” Sunil Gavaskar said.

“So maybe somebody with Rahane’s experience overseas… because Rahane overseas has been such a fine, fine player and maybe if he had been there today the story could have been completely different,” Gavaskar added on commentary on Star Sports.

The Unstoppable Rabada

India entered the grounds of Centurion with a dream to create history and win the Test series in South Africa. But, Kagiso Rabada threatened to crush those dreams on the first day itself as he derailed India’s batting order. Rabada started with the big fish, he dismissed Indian skipper Rohit Sharma on just 5 runs. Debutant pacer Nandre Burger clinched two more wickets before lunch and India was in trouble.

Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer prepared some ground before lunch and they wanted to continue with their partnership. But, Kagiso Rabada, with some extra energy after lunch provided his team with a breakthrough and Shreyas Iyer had no clue what hit him. The South African pacer then trapped the world’s best batter Virat Kohli and sent him back to the pavilion.

All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin used his smartness to secure some boundaries but Kagiso Rabada didn’t let him do much on the crease. As India moved towards one more partnership between KL Rahul and Shardul Thakur, Kagiso Rabada came with a spoiler and dismissed Thakur to clinch his 500th international wicket.

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Published: 26 Dec 2023, 10:59 PM IST

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