India ended the year that had its fair share of positives with a whimper. In their final match of 2023, India slumped to a humiliating defeat, losing to South Africa by an innings and 32 runs at Centurion. Needing to put up a commanding show with both ball and bat when play resumed on Day 3, India’s plans came undone, but they did neither. After South Africa got in front with a 163-run lead, India, needing their batters to step up, imploded. From 72/3, India lost their last seven wickets for 59 runs to be blown away for 131 as South Africa raced to a 1-0 lead.
With the result, India’s hopes of winning their maiden Test series win in South Africa have ended, with at max, a win in Johannesburg will level the series. After the match, India captain Rohit Sharma had no shame in admitting that his team simply wasn’t good enough. The batting was a big disappointment in both innings, while the bowling appeared flat across all three days. That India was outplayed despite rain and bad light eating up a reasonable chunk of time and South Africa down to 10 men with Temba Bavuma pulling up his hamstring in a kick to the gut for the team, and Rohit admitted the loopholes with his chin up.
“Not good enough. Got decent runs having been put in. KL Rahul batted brilliantly, but we failed to exploit conditions with the ball. Batting was poor in the second innings, Virat batted brilliantly but if you have to win Tests, have to come together collectively. We failed to do that. Guys have come here before; we understand what to expect from the conditions. Every individual has his own plan. Our batters were challenged at different times. We didn’t adapt well. We didn’t bat well both times which is why we stand here,” Rohit, who scored 5 and 0 in this match, said.
We will regroup, says Rohit
The margin of loss notwithstanding, Rohit dwelled on the very few positives India could take out of heading into the new year. KL Rahul’s gritty century in the first innings, to go with Jasprit Bumrah’s 4/63 in his first overseas Test since July of 2022, but when a team is left clueless like India were against South Africa, it has little impact. Still, Rohit remained confident in the team’s ability to come back stronger at the Wanderers in 10 days’ time.
“There were some positives. Not a lot when you finish the game inside three days. KL the way he batted, he showed what you need to do on that kind of pitch. Don’t want to be too critical on the bowlers, they haven’t played much here. We’ll regroup and come back. It’s important to regroup as quickly as we can, tough from a loss like these but as sportsmen you go through these times. Got to pick ourselves up,” he added.