Cricket

India in SA | India missed a golden opportunity to conquer South Africa

Indian players appeal for a wicket during the fourth day of the third and final test match between South Africa and India in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

Indian players appeal for a wicket during the fourth day of the third and final test match between South Africa and India in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

So, the India-South Africa series has consumed a captain!

Virat Kohli’s passion and energy will be missed. Not so much his personality cult. He was a leader to those committed to him. And, he needed his support staff to drive his captaincy.

He had his successes, got his men to rally around him and cherished and pursued overseas triumphs. He also had his failures. Once he had a different set of support staff, Kohli was taken out of his comfort zone.

Disappointing

Kohli said in his statement he was no longer able to give 120 per cent as captain. But why? He is still good as a player and still arguably the fittest cricketer in the side?

Kohli leaving captaincy following a major series defeat is disappointing. Fighters don’t quit.

But then, Kohli’s captaincy is past now. As and when he takes over, Rohit Sharma will have a challenging road ahead.

So why did India fail to conquer South Africa in its backyard after a victory in the first Test at Centurion?

The batting failed as a unit in conditions where the ball seamed and bounced at a good pace. India lost wickets in clusters, unable to build partnerships.

K.L. Rahul made an outstanding hundred in the first Test and then tapered off when the Proteas bowled a lot closer to his off-stump.

The gifted Rishabh Pant belted a riveting unbeaten 100 in the third Test at Newlands. In between there were no centuries for India.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane had their moments but could not push on to a bigger score or be more consistent. If these two senior batsmen cannot pull their weight in crucial campaigns, then India can try youngsters in their place.

The replacements

Hanuma Vihari impressed at the Wanderers, and Shreyas Iyer made a hundred on Test debut at home. India has replacements.

In low-scoring scraps, contributions from the lower middle-order are vital. The solidity of the left-handed Ravindra Jadeja was missed.

And when they had the opportunity to shut the door on South Africa, the Indians allowed the Proteas to sneak back.

Kohli’s dismissal to a delivery well outside off in the Indian second innings at Newlands when he was, along with Pant, taking the game away from South Africa, being a case in point. India wasn’t ruthless enough.

And the Indian seamers could not quite bowl the right length on these pitches. Twice, the famed bowling unit failed to defend a target beyond 200 and on both occasions, did not even run South Africa close. India needs a quality left-arm seamer, who can add a different angle and dimension.

And when will off-spinner R. Ashwin bowl India to victory in a SENA — South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia — country like that genius Erapalli Prasanna accomplished with eight for 76 against New Zealand in Auckland, 1976.

All the on-field temper tantrums over DRS only helped the Proteas.

India will not get a better opportunity to conquer South Africa in South Africa again.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 3:41:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-in-sa-india-missed-a-golden-opportunity-to-conquer-south-africa/article38279361.ece