South Arica Win Test Series 2-1 Beating India Easily Again: Dead Wood In Indian Batting Must Be Removed!

 

Photo: file (wikipedia.org)

South Africa beat India by 7 wickets at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town on the fourth day today of the third and last match winning the Test Series 2-1, thus keeping their unbeaten record against India in Tests at home. Excellent bowling  and true-to-potential spells by SA pacers Rabada, Jansen and Ngidi ensured South Africa chase a total less than 250 runs like they did in the second Test in Johannesburg. And like in the second test the Proteas chased the even lighter target of 212 runs professionally with consistent batsmanship losing only three wickets and romping home in the 64th over. Ever consistent Keegan Petersen who scored 72 and 82 in this match was rightfully declared the Player of the Series. Captain Dean Elgar again led the team to a healthy start scoring 30 runs building the momentum with Petersen, and Dussen (41 not out) and Bavuma (32 not out) did the rest. This is one of the resounding Test Series victories for South Africa, going down in the first test, and then coming back magnificently. This Series has also been very absorbing one with ups and downs throughout, largely thanks to the excellent work done by the fast bowlers of both sides.

 

As far as India is concerned there is nothing much to write home about as they did a repeat of the second Test: while in the Johannesburg test despite having the advantage of winning the toss the visitors crashed to 202 all out in the first innings, here in Cape Town they folded up for 223 runs; while in Johannesburg Shardul Thakur brought India back into the match with a 7-wicket haul restricting SA to 229 runs, here in Cape Town Jasprit Bumrah, in his first striking performance of the series, brought India back into the match restricting SA to only 210 runs; both in Johannesburg and Cape Town Indian batsmen failed to capitalize in their second innings—setting easy targets of 240 and 212 respectively; in both matches the hosts won by margins of 7 wickets.

 

India captain Virat Kohli came back in this match, giving some respectability to the team score of 223 with his score of 79 and by playing a sheet-anchor (29 runs 143 balls) to guide a non-performing Rishabh Pant to score a ton (100 in 139 balls, more importantly for keeping his position in the team rather than winning the match for his team) to the team total of just 198 runs, and they were the only two batsmen to reach double-digit individual scores in that immensely forgettable outing. In fact, Kohli played two of his slowest Test innings of his career. Emotional outbursts regarding the verdict of the third umpire as done in public through the stump mic by Kohli and Rahul on the third day afternoon do not help a team in hiding its shortcomings. This is not a healthy trend considering the fact that nowadays almost every LBW decision is contested by applying for a review or the DRS, and on many occasions the Hawk’s Eye cannot convince either the cricketing sides concerned or the spectators.

 

India had the advantage of winning the toss in all three tests, but a much-needed 300+ runs batting first eluded them all the time except for the Centurion test where they scored 327 runs thanks mainly to a century by KL Rahul that won them the Test. Their best chance of sealing the series was in Johannesburg where they had an unbeaten record and the pitch was playing quite easy; but they failed to set a target of at least 250+ runs. Anything less than 250 in the last innings to chase for any team does not create enough pressure on the chasing team and does not give the bowlers enough encouragement to bowl out their best. An addition of only 50 more runs by the Indian batsmen could have changed the result of that crucial encounter.

 

Overall, in the last two Tests India had 4 batting collapses in 4 outings after being in positions of strength, and if a famed batting line-up performs in this way, the thought of winning is daydreaming only. Almost all of the batsmen were inconsistent: KL Rahul did nothing after his magnificent century in Centurion; Mayank Agarwal failed in 5 of the 6 innings; Pujara and Rahane were the most inconsistent ones, failing most of the time; the lower order has been inconsistent too; and for a change the Indian tail also failed to wag in the last two tests. Some tough decisions need to be taken to change the batting line-up drastically, the persisting ‘dead wood’ must be removed and the reserve batsmen must be tried in rotation.

 

Winning the last frontier thus still remains a dream, and this is thanks to a chain of failures by the famed India batting. The white-ball Series is coming up now with the first and the second of the 3 ODIs taking place on the 19th and 21st of January 2022 respectively, at Boland Park in the small town of Paarl. For the third and last encounter on 23rd January the teams will shift to Newlands, Cape Town again. In absence of Rohit Sharma KL Rahul is the stand-in captain and Jasprit Bumrah being his deputy.

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