IND vs SA Tests: What cost Team India a maiden series win in South Africa

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. 

FILE PHOTO: Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane had their moments but could not push on to a bigger score or be more consistent.   -  GETTY IMAGES

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, not all. 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.

It’s interesting when Kohli said in his statement he was no longer able to give 120 per cent as captain. 

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But why? He is still good as a player and still arguably the fittest cricketer in the side. Is it because he had a new support staff for the Indian team?

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. 

KL 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 batters cannot pull their weight in away crucial campaigns, then India can try youngsters in their place.

Hanuma Vihari, strong off his back-foot, impressed at the Wanderers, and Shreyas Iyer made a hundred on Test debut at home.

READ: What next for Pujara-Rahane as Kohli quits Test captaincy

India has replacements. 

In low scoring scraps, the contributions from the lower middle-order are vital and India did not get enough runs here consistently. 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 South African pitches to extract the maximum out of them. They bowled too full on occasions.

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.

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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