South Africa pace legend Allan Donald, on Thursday, threw his weight behind under-fire India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who was dropped for the first Test at Cape Town. Despite trailing the three-match Test series against the Proteas 0-1, Rahane’s place continues to be in doubt ahead of the second match at Centurion on Friday, reported Hindustan Times.

Donald said that he was surprised by the Mumbai batsman missing out, “I really think it’s harsh to keep Rahane out. Last time he was here he had a great tour. I think for me, Rahane is the man who can steady the ship. He is a rock-solid guy and a good head on his shoulders.”

The 51-year-old observed that watching Rahane perform his duties as a 12th man may have surprised the hosts, “South Africans see Rahane sitting on the bench and carrying drinks and they would say ‘wow’. They would rather have that, you know. He’s an absolutely world-class player,” Donald added.

The Indian top-order collapsed meekly in both innings at Newlands. Donald cited the examples of Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar for the Indian batsmen to emulate. He said: “Once they [Azhar and Tendulkar] got themselves in, they made hay. It was attractive to watch them and it was hard to get them out,” Donald said. “Sachin was so wonderful because he adjusted his technique so brilliantly wherever he went. That’s what separated him from the others. That’s what India have to be smart about. They have to leave balls very well for a long period.”

‘India must not be disheartened’

Donald urged Virat Kohli and co to not lose hope from the 72-run loss. While opining that the batsmen would have it easier at Centurion, the pace ace warned India that conditions wouldn’t be vastly different either, “Pretoria, I think, the scoring rate is much higher and the guys can play their shots. Don’t get me wrong but I don’t think South Africa will get it flat. It won’t be flat. There will be carry and there will be pace. I don’t think India must be disheartened with what happened in Newlands.”

“Vernon’s the man bowling stump-to-stump all day. If there’s anything in the wicket, he will expose it. It’s clear to me they have told Kagiso Rabada your role is to bowl fast, be aggressive. And the same with Morne Morkel, you know. What Chris Morris brings to the table is that again he is 145 km/hr.”