Plagued by pace and unsettled by the unexpected bounce, an ill-prepared India faced a heavy defeat – by an innings and 32 runs – against a vastly superior South Africa in the opening Boxing Day Test in Centurion, concluding within three days. After posting a fighting total of 245 in the first innings, the Indian batters faltered in the second innings, managing only 131 runs in 34.1 overs. In contrast, South Africa posted a commanding 408 in their initial attempt. With this, South Africa secured an insurmountable 1-0 lead in the two-match series, shattering India’s aspirations of winning a Test series in the Rainbow Nation for the first time in 31 years.
The only chance for redemption now lies in a 1-1 draw, contingent on India leveling the series in the upcoming New Year’s Test in Cape Town. The Indian team put up a shoddy batting show, signifying its cluelessness and lack of preparedness for a tough assignment like this. Former India batter and cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar insisted the side’s performances left “much to be desired,” emphasising on batting shortcomings.
“Well played South Africa! While I initially felt the South African team would’ve been unhappy after the 1st innings, their pace attack surpassed expectations and showcased remarkable skill in the 2nd innings, in spite of the pitch becoming more favourable for batting as the match progressed.
“From whatever I watched, India’s shot selection left much to be desired. Throughout the Test, only a few batters, namely Elgar, Jansen, Bedingham, @imVkohli and @klrahul truly seemed at ease with the bat, navigating the conditions with technique and poise,” wrote Tendulkar.
It has been a horrible last six to seven weeks for skipper Rohit Sharma, who lost the World Cup final in November, was removed from Mumbai Indians captaincy two weeks back and now didn’t look like a leader that made him an instant favourite during the World Cup.
The team also looked a bit like its skipper, dishevelled and without any plan B for course correction.