Rohit Sharma silenced by ‘biggest nemesis’, India captain’s unlucky 13 vs Rabada | Cricket

India captain Rohit Sharma talked about “desperation” for a big win in his first press conference since the ODI World Cup final loss in Ahmedabad last month. He aims to become the first-ever Indian captain to claim a Test series win in South Africa, as the visitors want to conquer their final frontier. But India, put to bat first after a delayed start, on that bouncy track of the SuperSport Park and under the cloudy Centurion sky, incurred a horror start in the opening half-hour of Day 1 of the two-match Test series opener. Rohit registered an unlucky 13 against Kagiso Rabada, while South Africa debutant Nadre Burger inflicted further damage by dismissing Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill successively to send India three down for just 24 before the likes of Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer rebuild with their half-century stand. (India vs South Africa Live Score 1st Test Day 1)

South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of India’s captain Rohit Sharma on the first day of the first Test cricket match between India and South Africa, at SuperSport Park Stadium, in Centurion, Tuesday(PTI)

One of the reasons behind Rohit’s stellar run as an opener, especially in foreign conditions, has been his ability to move away from his natural aggressive game and adopt a more defensive approach, which included leaving the ball more, especially the ones outside the off, and avoid taking risks early on despite not getting the scoreboard ticking. However, on Tuesday, Rohit fell back to his natural game and played the shorter ball from Rabada, targeted on his body, for a pull shot as Burger stopped the effort at deep fine leg.

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This was his sixth dismissal in the last three years playing the pull shot in England, Australia and South Africa from 48 such executions, averaging 15.67 while he was dismissed only twice in India and West Indies during the same period from 60 shots, averaging 66.50.

Speaking to Star Sports at the end of the first session on Tuesday, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar admitted that while the pull shot has been his go-to weapon in white-ball cricket to ease the pressure off him, in the longest format, it has been his “nemesis”.

“It’s interesting that his go-to shot, the one shot that he plays in white ball cricket that puts the opposition on the back foot, has actually been Rohit Sharma’s nemesis in Test cricket in the last two years. He’s been out seven times playing that pull short. And he likes to play it in the air. And that is hazardous in Test cricket,” he said.

The dismissal also made Rabada the most successful bowler against Rohit in international cricket as he went past New Zealand’s Tim Southee to register his 13th wicket. Six of those came in Test cricket, where he stands second behind Australia’s Nathan Lyon (9), five in ODIs, and remaining two in T20I cricket.

Burger then quickly removed Gill (2) and Jaiswal (17) before Kohli and Iyer revived India from 24 for three to 91 for three at Lunch. As South Africa erred in their line, targeting the middle and leg stump, where Indian batters are generally strong, Kohli and Iyer made most of it to stitch an unbeaten 67-run stand.

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