Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison criticised India’s decision to not enforce the follow-on against New Zealand at Mumbai, suggesting that it would be very worrisome if the hosts did it for commercial reasons.
India bowled New Zealand out for 62 and gained a 263-run lead. However, they opted to bat again, with Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been severely short on runs, and Mayank Agarwal, who registered a ton in the first essay, walking out to open the innings.
While speaking on talkSPORT‘s Following On Cricket Podcast, Harmison said, “I honestly don’t understand the decision. His bowlers have only bowled 28.1 overs. If it’s a commercial decision, that for me, worries me a little bit. If Indian selectors are looking for Pujara and Kohli to get some runs going ahead to the South African series – Pujara especially, that should be enough to tell me that you shouldn’t be going to South Africa. Full stop.
“If you are that desperate to let the game drift, the way it is drifting just so one man can get some runs – to then go and bat on a completely different surface. I can’t imagine Kohli wanted to get some runs. If that was the case, he should’ve played the first Test match.”
Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, the former Bengal cricketer, was also a part of the conversation. He chimed in saying that India might have wanted to give the middle order some time in the middle, although he was also skeptical of India’s decision to not enforce the follow-on.
“The only reason as was mentioned was that they wanted the middle order to have a bat before the series against South Africa. Just to give them a bit of confidence. I am not sure how much confidence you are going to get batting in Mumbai against a bowling attack that looked completely deflated after getting all out for 60,” he said.
“There is not much motivation left for the bowlers knowing that the opposition already has a lead of 260-odd. It is very demoralizing for any side. I don’t know how much confidence this innings is going to give Pujara. If they [middle order] needed batting, someone else [instead of Mayank] could have come in. Very surprising that they didn’t enforce the follow-on.”
India continued batting on day three, with Pujara eventually being dismissed by Ajaz Patel for 47. Mayank, on the other hand, piled up another half-century and looked as comfortable as he did during the first innings.