2018 began on a disastrous note for the ‘Men in Blue.’ The reasons as to why India lost should be pondered upon. The number one Test team in the world arrived in South Africa with back-to-back series victories. However, with the pitch, players and conditions totally different than sub-continent, the uphill task resulted in a 2-0 drubbing in the 3 match series. Hope the Indian team avoids a whitewash, which looks very likely.
All the big talk, previous records and statistics have gone in vain. The Indian Test team not just lost the 2nd Test, but also the much-hyped Freedom series in a lopsided manner. The No 1 ranked side once again failed to overcome the famous South African jinx despite a ‘favourable’ sub-continent pitch in the second match. Debutant bowler Lungi Ngidi proved to be the chief tormentor for the visitors. He picked up vital six-for to hand India a 135-run hammering in the second Test at SuperSport Park. This loss also halted the Indian juggernaut of nine consecutive series victories.
It was a revenge of sorts for Proteas side, who had been whitewashed 3-0 by hosts India in 2015. Right from team selection to shot selection, and from running between the wickets to dropping critical catches, India were left pondering with quite a few issues.
In this write-up KreedOn will look at six major reasons as to why India lost and highlight the vulnerability and loopholes as of the two Test matches.
Why India Lost – Reason 1 – Dropped Catches Proved to be Costly
Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel replaced an injured Wriddhiman Saha for the second Test. Historically, Patel always had questions marks over his wicket-keeping skills. To replace India’s current best wicketkeeper-batsman was always going to be a tough ask. Parthiv Patel’s work behind the stumps, if not shoddy, was not ideal as well.
In the first innings he failed to move swiftly to his right to pounce an edge of Hashim Amla. It was a regulation catch that most of international wicket keepers pounce on. Amal was on 30 when dropped, and went on to score 82.
Patel again dropped a regular one of Faf Du Plessis late in South Africa’s first innings. Du Plessis was on 54 and went on to add 17 more runs, after the drop. Tail-ender Kagiso Rabada’s double-drop by the Indian fielders cost India. He was dropped on one and went on to make 18. The last three batsman added added 43 runs.
In the second innings, South Africa opener Dean Elgar got life when he was on 29. Jasprit Bumrah had Elgar in all sorts of trouble with a rising delivery, but the edge went through the Patel and Pujara at first slip. Had Patel went for it and took the catch, South Africa would have had an early blow on day four. Elgar went on to make 61.
Why India lost – Reason 2 – A Total No show by the Top-order
In an overseas Test series, the role of the top-order becomes highly important. The team depends on the top three to give them a good platform. Coming off from a splendid home season – Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara failed terribly on the testing pitches of South Africa.
In both the Test matches, (the world class) the Indian batting unit fell like a pack of cards. Captain Virat Kohli did make changes in the opening combination after losing the first Test. But shuffling Rahul with Dhawan didn’t change the miserable outcome. Also, the form of India’s best Test batsman, Pujara who was the second highest run-getter in 2017 (after Steve Smith) failed to make any great contributions. The Saurashtra batsman achieved a dubious record to become the first Indian player to be run-out twice in a Test match.
Why India lost – Reason 3 – Where is vice captain Ajinkya Rahane
The Indian Team Management is being heavily criticized by experts and former players for not including vice captain Ajinkya Rahane in both the Tests. ODI specialist Rohit Sharma was given the nod ahead of Ajinkya, who has an impressive record while playing in whites, especially in the overseas conditions.
In the past few years, Rahane has established himself perfectly at the number 5 position in India’s Test side. He is known to provide strong support in the middle order. However, Kohli’s decision to exclude Rahane (who has a better overseas average than Virat) is a point which many cricket experts have failed to understand.
Why India lost – Reason 4 – De Villiers and Du Plessis
During the second Test India needed to strike quickly, but It took them an hour. In this time, AB de Villiers moved from 50 to 80 in 43 deliveries. In his own remarkable style, AB took the surface out of the equation by shuffling in his crease, creating room to hit the ball into the offside and tuck it past square leg. Though Indian bowlers had a couple shouts against him, but his bat met the ball with power and precision. Due to his innings, South Africa’s lead swiftly shifted from 118 to 172 and 287. His innings was one of the major reasons as to why India lost the Test series against SA.
On day four, Faf du Plessis showed the Indian batsmen how to grind it out in South Africa. The Proteas captain played out 141 deliveries for just 48 runs. He also assisted Philander with the ‘blockathon’ consuming 85 deliveries for 26. His innings not only dissented the Indian bowling attack, but frustrated them as well. That allowed South Africa to nudge the lead further.
Why India lost – Reason 5 – A Flop Show by the ‘young’ team
During the first Test, commentator Sanjay Manjrekar spoke his mind over Hardik Pandya’s run-out in the first innings of Centurion Test. For his outspoken stance, many cricket fans slammed the Mumbai batsman. But, after the result of the series already decided, these small things will certainly be discussed and looked upon seriously in the Indian dressing room.
The situation was positive for team India on Day 3 of the 2nd Test as King Kohli smashed his 21st Test century. But little did the fans expect that young all-rounder Hardik Pandya would literally throw away his wicket in such a unprofessional manner. Pandya, who was too casual in dragging the bat back to his crease after being said no for a run by partner Kohli, was run out in the most bizarre manner. He got thwacked by Sunil Gavaskar from the commentary box.
Just like Pandya, opener KL Rahul who got the chance to play the second Test in place of Shikhar Dhawan also failed to capitalize. The Karnataka opener scored a total of 14 in both the innings.
Why India lost – Reason 6 – Captain Kohli the lone man standing
Skipper Kohli silenced his critics with a sublime inning of 153. On a wicket where Indian batting line up fell like a pack of cards, Virat contributed nearly half the team’s runs. The South Africans scored five half centuries in the 2nd Test, while for India after Kohli’s 153, the next best was 47 from Rohit Sharma.
The lack of support and inability to bat around the captain, meant that India fell short of South Africa’s first inning total. And when Kohli was undone by a Lungi indipper in the second innings, India folded for a mere 151.
The number 1 Test team in the world felt like they were not prepared for the series at all. The bounce and swing from the South African pace battery was just too hot to handle for the batsman. Even though our bowlers bowled their heart-out, the main cause of concern to be rectified in the 3rd Test is our batting, fielding and the lethargic attitude in the middle.