India has lost five, while drawn one Test series, out of the six that they have played against the Proteas in South Africa. That’s why when the Indian team for the three-match Test series against South Africa tour was announced, cricket experts believed that this team had the potential to do what no other Indian side had done so far.
Even the stats of 2017 favoured the Indian side, as Virat Kohli’s boys had won nine consecutive Test matches, a record that they share with Australia. So what exactly went wrong? Why was the in-form Indian batting line not able to chase a mediocre target of 209 runs?
In both the innings of the opening Test match of three-match series, Virat’s side collapsed and other than Hardik Pandya’s heroics in the second session of the second day’s play, no other Indian batter was able to leave a mark on the South African pacers.
In the first Test, many questionable decisions were made, including the inclusion of Rohit Sharma over Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane, whose stats (53.44) outside India speaks volumes of his calibre. However, in the post-match press conference, Virat defended his decision, saying they preferred Sharma over Rahane because of their recent form.
The way Indian side collapsed, it only showed that they lacked experience. In the first match that lasted three days, the hosts were victorious even though they were dismissed for just 130 runs in the second innings.
The way India lost charge in the first Test, people were shocked and for a moment viewers questioned whether this was the same team that held the top spot in the ICC Test rankings. When India landed in the rainbow nation, they said they were ready to be the first to write history. But the way they batted in the first Test, leaves a big question mark on their batting abilities on bouncy tracks. If the Indian batsman failed on the Newlands pitch, it would be even more difficult to handle the more lively and bouncy pitch of Centurion. It seems, Virat Kohli’s boys, who had played their last 31 Tests in the slowest pitch of Asia, are not prepared for the pace and bounce that South African pitch offers to the bowlers.
So what exactly Virat Kohli needs to do to avoid the series defeat?
They definitely need to bring back Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane back in playing eleven and KL Rahul in the squad. If Virat’s side want to be in the series, they need to balance their batting order so that KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma can be in the playing eleven. They need to score runs even in the difficult situation and most importantly they need to stop South Africa from making big targets.