One more match, one more comprehensive defeat. South Africa thrashed India by 106 runs at Newlands on Sunday evening, the team’s tenth defeat in 13 one-day games since the summer in the West Indies.
As at Durban earlier this week, what was the toughest to digest was not the loss, but the manner of losing. At the end of a day of crushing disappointment, the number of unanswered questions was far too many.
Why was Dinesh Kaarthick, a wicketkeeper, played ahead of Dinesh Mongia and Wasim Jaffer in a team struggling so badly for runs? Where does Irfan Pathan fit in on current bowling form if he can’t bat at number 3, which he didn’t?
What is the point of coach Greg Chappell’s focus on the future and a process when the present is so insecure?
At the post-match press conference, Chappell slammed "key players" for letting the team down. "The biggest concern at the moment is that key players are not doing well enough. We are not playing well enough and there are too many players out of form," he said.
It wasn’t just about Virender Sehwag, who lasted four balls for a duck, Chappell said. "Sehwag is not the only player. We have a number of players who are struggling. I don't know if there are any easy answers, I don't want to single out any individual."
The coach admitted repeated defeats were making things difficult for him. "It doesn't make it any easy for me. The job is tough at the best of times and you can only keep doing as best as you can," he said.
A few days ago, South African skipper Graeme Smith remarked that his team had moved away from the fear of failure, and that had made a huge difference. What are India trying to move away from?