When India arrived in South Africa, they were expected to be brushed aside by the Proteas, especially in the Tests. But as it turned out, India's 'under-estimated' pace battery, as South Africa coach Russell Domingo described them on Wednesday, turned the final leaf on Jacques Kallis's career.
Unexpectedly though, Kallis retired from Tests but made himself available for ODIs in the hope of playing the 2015 World Cup and becoming only the third to play six World Cups. With him end a golden generation.
Call it the Board of Control for Cricket in India's obstinacy, but the Decision Review System not being used in the series too might have had a role. A possible career-saving knock from Kallis in the second innings at the Wanderers was nipped early.
This India team has seen enough of such abrupt, painful exits and it was only natural that they'd take it in their stride. All they would say, "Yes, we've heard about Kallis's decision," before getting on with their job at the nets at Kingsmead. MS Dhoni didn't want to divert his attention immediately. "There are five days to go (for his retirement)."
South Africa are finding themselves in a similar situation as India had found themselves some time back. The hammerings in England and Australia forced Rahul Dravid and later VVS Laxman to call it quits. In fact, Laxman ignominiously announced retirement just before a Test in his hometown Hyderabad, which he was expected to play.
With England beating India at home, questions were raised over Tendulkar too. Eventually, he too had to be sent off following a quick series with the West Indies. Critics had been saying that they've been blocking quite a few spots and at least in the first Test they have been proved right as the youngsters stepped up to the plate.
For Australia too, Ricky Ponting had to bow out late last year, following questions over his ability to score consistently.
Over the past few months, Kallis has faced similar criticism in the South African media, with ex-players going on record and saying that he has been blocking a spot and the selectors have been unnecessarily giving him leeway. His 'pick and choose' policy for shorter formats too hadn't found much favour with coach Domingo making it clear a few months back.
Earlier this year, Domingo had met Kallis and told him that he wanted him to be a regular part of 2015 World Cup side. Kallis wanted to pick and choose ODIs before the World Cup and wanted to play in Tests which reportedly didn't go down well with Domingo.
Even before the India tour, Pat Symcox had said that Ryan McLaren should look to England to pursue his career (since Kallis was blocking his spot in ODIs) and that selectors should resign. Daryll Cullinan had said that Kallis's presence was making the team 'unsettled and insecure' and he was being given a lot of leeway. Cullinan also said Kallis should be considered more as a bowling all-rounder for ODIs. In mid-November, just before Pakistan visited South Africa, Herschelle Gibbs lashed out at Kallis's 'pick and choose' policy. The one last chance he had was in the previous Test but luck wanted it otherwise.
The consolation for India though will be that there remains no close challenger to Sachin Tendulkar's Test record.