South Africa’s ace paceman Kagiso Rabada has defended his skipper Dean Elgar’s decision to bat first in bowler-friendly conditions at Old Trafford.
Having won the first Test and taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, the Proteas once again decided to bat first in the second encounter but were bundled out for just 151 in 53.2 overs.
The conditions were entirely in favour of fast bowlers and James Anderson and Stuart Broad made the most of it. It was Rabada, batting at No. 9, who got South Africa past the 150-run mark.
The left-handed batter scored 36 runs and was South Africa’s leading run-scorer on day one of the second Test. In reply, England were 111/3, trailing by only 40 runs, when the stumps were drawn.
"Generally, if you're playing two spinners, then you're going to bat first. As you've seen the wicket is getting drier and drier by the second. It's day one and it's really dry and it's quite slow,” said Rabada.
“Simon was in the game. His second ball ragged quite a bit. So I think it was the right decision (to bat first). We played two spinners for a reason, knowing it can get quite dry out there. It is what it is.”
As Rabada mentioned, South Africa made the big call of playing offspinner Simon Harmer ahead of left-arm seamer Marco Jansen. Old Trafford is not known to be spin-friendly, with spinners here having the third-worst strike rate (74) among venues in England since 2018.
Harmer has done well at this venue for Essex, but Jansen made vital contributions with the bat and ball in the opening Test. The young fast-bowling allrounder claimed four wickets in the first match and also scored 48 runs with the bat.
"The selection issues: we had to play two spinners. But Marco is an exciting talent. He can bat. We've seen what he can do with the ball. He has got a lot of x-factor. Unfortunately, he had to miss out. That was a team decision. It wasn't based on his performance,” said Rabada.
"Simon is a top quality bowler, especially in the County Championship. He has proven that. If you had to look at the (Marco's) replacement, it's not a bad one.
“Marco has got a long career ahead of him and he is going to play a lot more games. He wouldn't mind the rest. He is going to be playing a lot more over the years."