Rohit Sharma faltered in both innings of 1st Test against South Africa© AFP

Team India’s humiliating 3-day loss in the first Test against South Africa sent shockwaves across the cricketing spectrum. Multiple greats of the game and pundits questioned the team’s preapredness for the tour, with the legendary Sunil Gavaskar highlighting the absence of practice matches as one of the biggest reasons behind the result embarrasing result. Gavaskar even called India’s intra-squad matches a ‘joke’ as he lambasted Rohit Sharma and the team management’s decision to not play First Class practice matches before the start of the 2-match series.

“The reasons are straightforward – you didn’t play any matches here. If you straightaway play Test matches, it doesn’t work out. Yes, you sent the India A team. The India A team should actually come before the tour,” he said on Star Sports.

“You need to play practice matches after coming here. Intra-squad is a joke because would your fast bowlers bowl extremely fast to your batters, would they bowl bouncers, as they would be scared about injuring their batters,” he said.

The argument the team management often gives behind the decision to not play First Class Tests is the difference between practice pitches and match pitches. But, Gavaskar feels practice matches are crucial, espeically for young players to step up to the challenge.

“So it’s better to play against the South Africa A team or play two or three matches against a county or a state. The schedule that is made these days, where you play only Test matches with a gap of seven days in between – remove the ‘workload’ word from Indian cricket’s dictionary.”

“Nothing happens to senior cricketers. They will play the second, third and fourth match even if they fail. Practice matches are necessary for the young players. If you want, you can ask your senior players to come at ease, they can come a day before the Test match, but you need to arrange practice matches for the young players,” he said.

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