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India's woeful run in South Africa: Factors that contributed to the loss

Indias woeful run in South Africa: Factors that contributed to the loss

Md Imtiaz

Published: 19 Jan 2018 12:44 AM GMT
Game over! The disastrous Indian innings succumb to the fiery South African pace on day five of the second Test match at Centurion, losing by 135 runs. And thus, South Africa win the much-awaited series 2-0 with another match to unravel. Incidentally, this is also Virat Kohli's first series defeat as a captain. As expectations had skyrocketed, there was still a gut feeling inside probably every supporter that India haven't been able to overcome its overseas test woes. Apart from their West Indies tours,India has won only a single Test match outside the subcontinent since January 2011. The last Indian captain to win a potentially 'big' series was Rahul Dravid against England in 2007. The Indian batters fail miserably in both Cape Town and Centurion. Apart from captain Kohli's 153 in the first innings of the second Test match, none of the batsmen could find a ground against the Protean pace brigade. In all the four innings Indian batsmen played, only on six occasions have they went past 30 runs in an innings. Surprisingly, Ashwin, who bats at number 8 batsmen, was the only player to score more than 30 twice.
If we put India's performance under the scanner, a multitude of elements would come to our mind, which somehow or the other turned out to be costly for the men in blue. Let's take a look at the factors that backfired for India: Shuffling players Indian supporters were up for a big disappointment when Bhuvaneshwar Kumar's name was withdrawn from the playing XI in the second Test match. Even after claiming six wickets in the first Test at Cape Town, the Uttar Pradesh bowler was replaced by Ishant Sharma, with the justification that Ishant will be able to exploit the bounce at Centurion in a better way. It was followed by Parthiv Patel replacing Wriddhiman Saha. There was always a big question mark over Patel's acumen behind the stumps and replacing him with India's current best wicketkeeper was going to be a tough ask. As anticipated, Patel put up a lacklustre performance, which was not what team India was asking for. In the first innings of the second Test match, Patel failed to move swiftly to his right to pounce an edge off Hashim Amla. Amla, who could have been sent off for 30, went on to amass 82 runs.
Source: NDTV Sports Unwise team selection culminated into sidelining the vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. Despite knowing Rahane has got the best average outside Asia, Kohli went with the current form of Rohit Sharma, who scored piles of runs on docile home pitches against Sri Lanka. Costly drops As discussed above, Patel not only dropped Amla, he also grassed a regulation one off Faf Du Plessis late in South Africa's first innings. Du Plessis, who was on 54 and went on to add 17 more runs along with Kagiso Rabada, who was dropped twice by the Indian fielders. Rabada was dropped on one and went on to make 18. The last three for South Africa added 43 runs. In the second innings, South Africans anchored by a 141-run partnership between AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar, with Elgar going on to make 61. However, the opener had got a life when he was on 29. An edge by Elgar went past Patel and Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip. Patel and Pujara were unmoved, and it sure was Patel's catch.
Missing partnerships
The only comforting element in the second Test match was Virat Kohli's 153-run knock that contributed nearly half of India's runs. However, it seemed like Kohli was waging a lone war. None of the top-order batsmen could cement a partnership with him. In the second innings, India rattled with Kohli's dismissal off the debutant Lungi Ngidi. No warm-up matches Blame it on complacency or a hectic schedule back home, you just can't come to South Africa and expect to triumph over them without playing any warmup match against a team of unknowns. The team even did not feel the urge to get their combinations sorted.
Pujara and Pandya's run outs
Getting run-out in the longer format of the game is considered to be a cardinal sin. Pujara, who is calmness personified, committed that sin twice. In a hurry to get off the mark in the first innings, Pujara was run-out on the very first delivery he faced. And in the second innings, Pujara got out running a third. It was poor his poor judgment that contributed significantly to India's loss. Everyone was expecting a monumental Pujara-style innings in the final day, but his departure almost ascertained India's defeat. Not to forget, Hardik Pandya's callous run-out in the first innings- where he did not even stretch his bat and his legs were in the air while Vernon Philander's throw hit the stumps. After seeing Pandya's knock in the first Test match, something sensible was expected from him, especially supporting Kohli.
The opening-pair conundrum
The two Test matches give enough insight into India's problematic opening pair. Shikhar Dhawan is sensational at home conditions, while KL Rahul is a technically better batsman, however, both of them, along with Murali Vijay could not provide India a steady beginning, giving easy wickets to the Proteans. The missing night watchman Lastly, it is still difficult to comprehend why the Indian team management decided not to opt for a night watchman when 11 overs are left for the first day, and the treacherous pitch is keeping batsmen on tenterhooks. This instance repeatedly happened in Cape Town and then in Centurion. It is the reason why Virat Kohli had to return to the pavillion early. And also shielding Rohit Sharma by sending Parthiv Patel was another wrong message. The temperature and the air surrounding the "25 saal ka badla'' has oozed out after these two perilous Test matches. It would be an interesting thing to watch whether India can chalk out the fault in their gameplan and come back strong to at least win the last Test match.
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