Former India opener Aakash Chopra has said India should not worry about "wrath of supporters and experts" and drop Hardik Pandya for the second Test of the ongoing three-match series if the conditions in Centurion demand the need for an extra batsman in the side.
Chopra, who represented the country in 10 Tests, added Virat Kohli-led hosts should think about adding a specialist batsman after the twin batting failure in their 72-run defeat in Cape Town earlier this week.
The Supersport Park in Centurion is also expected to offer enough pace and bounce for the fast bowlers, who have been dominating the batsmen so far in the series.
Notably, India benched vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane for the first Test and picked Rohit Sharma in the XI, which also had three specialist seamers, off-spinner R Ashwin and fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Much to the disappointment of Indian fans, the team's top-order, including Virat Kohli, failed in both the innings. But Pandya smashed 93 runs in just 95 balls to help the team recover from 92 for 7 and post 209 in the first innings.
Indian bowlers gave the side a good chance to go 1-0 up by bowling out the hosts for 130 in the second innings, but another disappointing batting show meant the visitors finished second best.
"Pandya's performance has given India this sweet headache, for leaving him out would invite wrath of the supporters and experts — he was the highest scorer of the game from both sides — but playing him might mean compromising with the team combination that you might think is ideal for the pitch in Centurion, and what's best suited for the team after the twin batting failure," Chopra wrote in his column for First Cricket.
He added: "In my humble opinion, it should always be about the team combination first, for the pitch offered for the match dictates that.
"If the pitch is anywhere close to the one in Cape Town (there's enough reasons to be believe that Centurion is very similar to Cape Town, if not a little more lively), it's only pragmatic to play six proper batsmen.
"On a pitch offering loads to the bowlers, you must bolster the batting like you must bolster the bowling department on a flat pitch. If you think that you'd need only four bowlers to take 20 wickets, playing an extra bowling option at the cost of a proper Test batsman isn't recommended. Especially when your batting has failed twice."
While Chopra recalled Team India's decision to drop Karun Nair for one-off Test against Bangladesh right after his maiden triple hundred against England in Chennai last year to back his opinion.
Can't chop and change every game: Sourav Ganguly
Meanwhile, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has hit out the team's inconsistent selection policies, saying the visitors "can't just chop and change every game".
The legendary left-hander, who has more often than not, prefered the five-bowler theory also said Pandya should be persisted with, especially after the Baroda all-rounder counter-attacking knock in Cape Town.
"Although KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have a good history of scoring runs away from the sub-continent and have better records as batsmen, India can't just chop-and-change in every game. They have shown faith in the current batting and that should continue in the next Test as well," Ganguly said, as quoted by Times of India.
He added: "Hardik Pandya came good with the bat and India should persist with him. The problem lies with the overall batting performance, and this has to be fixed soon. There will be lot of talk about players who were not in the playing eleven. That's always the case when you lose."