India's pace attack has become the central focus after the innings defeat in Centurion Park.
Questions are being asked about the backup new ball bowlers in the absence of the injured Zaheer Khan and it is a big concern as skipper MS Dhoni admitted.
Dhoni's comment that Indian pacers have done far better on flatter pitches puts the poor effort in perspective.
Among those who took a dim view of the performance was former all-rounder Madan Lal, who was the coach on the 1996-7 tour of South Africa.
S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma failed to bowl consistently quick and the 19-year-old Jaydev Unadkat, picked in place of Zaheer, looked too raw. Ishant and Harbhajan took two wickets each but the other two frontline bowlers failed to strike.
Sreesanth took only eight wickets in the three-Test home series against New Zealand. Ishant did not seem to be using his height advantage at Centurion and TV pundits discussed how he was falling away in his delivery stride.
"They bowled too many short balls and South Africa batsmen are very good with cut and pull," Madan Lal told HT. "They should bowl a little up, the three-fourths length to move the ball."
Madan Lal felt the pacers have been doing a good job for India in the past few seasons but if they struggled, as they did and did not provide early breakthroughs, then Harbhajan Singh will not be effective on fast SA pitches."It may not be fair to criticise Unadkat, he is a young kid but he should have done better. He bowled only at 126kmph. If that was the case they could have even taken Munaf Patel or Abhimanyu Mithun who went to Sri Lanka and was then discarded.
"Zaheer is a class bowler but fitness is an issue. He has had a lot of injuries, they'll have to work on him." Going into Durban, arguably the fastest wicket in South Africa, Madan Lal had a simple advice: "They have to think about bowling well rather than taking wickets. You only get wickets if you bowl well."