'I’d be very surprised,' Ajit Agarkar on 'follow-on' debate surrounding India in 2nd Test vs South Africa
Day 3 of the second and penultimate Test between India and South Africa ended with hosts firmly in the driver's seat. Courtesy Ravichandran Ashwin's four-wicket haul, India bundled out the Proteas for a moderate 275 all-out in 105.4 overs. Thus, the Virat Kohli-led India gained a humongous 326-run first-innings lead in the process.
This became India's second-biggest lead over South Africa in Test history. Thus, the hosts have an option to either enforce a follow-on (for the first time versus South Africa in whites) or come out to bat for a session or two and set a huge total on board for the visitors. What will Kohli and the team management opt for?
When the question was posed in front of India's former frontline seamer, Ajit Agarkar, he told ESPNCricinfo Match Day, "I don’t know….I thought they had done away with follow-ons in Test cricket these days….But, I think there is a chance they would now. If they had to bowl tonight, you don’t quite know because a lot of captains are averse to this idea of not giving their bowlers enough rest…just over 100 overs bowled by India. In the older times, that was not the case, if you had a chance, the teams would take it."
The 41-year-old Agarkar added, "In the past, there have been a couple of examples where teams have come from behind but I don’t think that will be the case with South Africa, especially with that many runs behind, two days left and the way they have played. Yea! I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t, especially with the overnight rest that the bowlers have had, plus five bowlers in this line-up for India, especially the seamers who haven’t had enough bowling."
If India go for a follow-on, the home side will become the first-ever team to enforce a follow-on on South Africa since 2008. At that time, England had asked the Proteas to bat again in the Lord's Test in 2008. The match ended in a draw as the visitors rectified their flaws from the first essay and made England work hard for breakthroughs.
Day 3 of the Pune Test commenced with Indian bowlers striking at regular intervals. While Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav shared five wickets among them, Ashwin was the star of the day who ended with 50 scalps versus the opposition in the longer format. Thus, he became only the fourth Indian bowler to achieve the feat.