If one man can be signalled out as villain by the South Africans for the first ever overseas series defeat by the Indians, it can only be their skipper for the series. After all, it was Jacques Kallis' below-par performance in every department, which tilted the scales so heavily in favour of India.
The revered all-rounder, the hero of the first match, flattered to deceive in the subsequent outings. The South African machinery, which normally depends so heavily on team work, had just one piece giving way, and it fell in a heap.
The man who has scored over 9000 runs in ODIs at a remarkable average of 45, was castled cheaply. His scores of 2 and 0 made it the first time that Kallis failed to reach double figures in consecutive matches against India.
But more than that, the manner of his dismissal - cleaned by RP in the second match, and again Agarkar opening him inside out, taking his off stump in the third - demoralized Kallis' soldiers like never before.
In the last two matches, Kallis' wicket had South Africa reeling at two for seven and two for eight. Clearly worried batsmen, kept on hearing the echoes of the rattled stumps, and played even innocuous deliveries with utmost caution, allowing the run-rate to crawl. Repairs proved just about impossible in the end.
In fielding, Kallis is considered the safest pair of hands in the slip cordon. He has held 100 catches in ODIs, but in Ireland, his grip seemed to have had strong layers of butter on it. At times, he allowed the ball to get past him showing a rarity - slow reflexes. And at times, the ball just tumbled out of his grip. These lapses, coming in the first few overs, rubbed onto other fielders as well.
But probably the biggest let down was his bowling. Kallis has taken 233 wickets from 261 matches at a respectable economy of 4.8. But in the series, he looked the pale shadow of the bowler that he actually is.
The final hour of the third ODI was the last chance for the South African skipper to make amends. But he wasted all that in his 23 over of the innings, and what turned out to be his final over.
Till 22nd over, South Africa were still in the game as India required 59 runs at a run rate of 6.6 from the last nine overs. But then came three cracking drives by Dravid off balls which were either too short or too full on the offside. The damage was done.
Kallis' fourth over yielded 15 runs and India now needed just 44 runs off the last eight overs at a rate of 5.5.
Kallis' bowling turned out to be the final nail in South African coffin. The much celebrated all rounder, after batting brilliantly in the first ODI, just failed to deliver with either bat or the ball.