From Ajinkya Rahane’s exclusion to no warm-ups, India’s 10 mistakes that led to series loss

Virat Kohli’s series winning streak as Indian cricket team captain ended with a 135-run loss in the Centurion Test vs South Africa as the Proteas took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

cricket Updated: Jan 18, 2018 12:45 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Centurion
Virat Kohli,Ajinkya Rahane,Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli suffered his first series loss as Indian cricket team skipper after losing the Centurion Test by 135 runs. (AP)

India’s 135-run loss in the Centurion Test prolonged their overseas woes and prolonged their wait for a series win in South Africa. Virat Kohli’s 153 was the only bright spot in a batting line-up that once again struggled to cope up in conditions that aided the bowlers. South Africa’s win has ended Virat Kohli’s nine-series winning streak as skipper of the Indian cricket team and more questions will be raised on the team’s ability to perform in overseas conditions. Here are the mistakes which India committed which led to the series loss. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA UPDATES) (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA SCORECARD)

1 Pulling out of warmup match

You just can’t come to South Africa and declare that practising among yourselves is better than playing a warmup match against a team of unknowns. But this team was so confident that it felt it didn’t need any practice match, not even to get their combinations sorted.

2 Sidelining Ajinkya Rahane

Forget South Africa, you shouldn’t drop Ajinkya Rahane even in a warm-up match. India captain Virat Kohli said he knows Rahane has the best average outside Asia and yet he went with current form of Rohit Sharma, based on the centuries scored on docile home pitches against depleted Sri Lanka. Massive blunder.

3. Persisting with Rohit

Here is where it got worse. A match is half won if you bat well in the first innings. But Rohit Sharma, bred on featherbed pitches in India, couldn’t move his legs quick enough to keep up with Kagiso Rabada’s pace at Centurion. He should have been dropped after Cape Town but Kohli of course had other ideas.

KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan’s musical chairs at the top have not given the Indian batting stability. (REUTERS)

4 The Rahul-Dhawan conundrum

Shikhar Dhawan is terrific at home. KL Rahul is a technically better batsman. Who do you pick for a seaming pitch in Cape Town? No brainer right? Wrong! This Indian team management is driven by logic and reasoning that makes sense only to them. And once Dhawan didn’t fire in Cape Town, they dropped him on a pitch where he could have given a good start

5. Five batsmen at Newlands instead of six

Going with five bowlers, including off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, on a seaming Newlands pitch was contradictory to what Sanjay Bangar had said ahead of the Test. Ashwin ended up bowling just 8.1 overs. Surely another batsman (read Rahane) could have been fitted into this team?

6. Where is the nightwatchman?

Burning question. With 11 overs left for the first day on a pitch that was making the batsmen literally dance, the ‘experienced’ India team management didn’t have the common sense of sending out a nightwatchman after the openers. Happened in Cape Town and then in Centurion. What good does it do to the side when you lose Virat Kohli so early? Shielding Rohit Sharma by sending Parthiv Patel was another wrong message.

7 Reading the pitch wrong at Centurion

Faf du Plessis, who plays domestic cricket for the Titans at Centurion, was concerned with the burnt grass at one end of the pitch. But Virat Kohli said he found the pitch to be lively. Who do you believe? And what does that tell about the pitch reading ability of this India team?

Dropping Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the Centurion Test was a big surprise from the Indian cricket team. (AFP)

8 Dropping Bhuvi after Newland’s heroics

Another wrong message sent to the team when you drop your best bowler in the previous Test only because you feel the Centurion pitch is not suited for him. Restricting Bhuvneshwar Kumar like this is preventing him from showing that he might not be a one-trick pony. Not to forget his batting ability as well.

9 One spinner where they should have played two

R Ashwin looked a lone warrior while bowling 68.2 overs, the highest among all India bowlers, at Centurion. This was a pitch that would have made Ravindra Jadeja’s eyes light up. But India went with the clichéd one spinner, one allrounder with three pacers, consigning Jadeja, who has three Ranji Trophy triple centuries, to jogging around the field during breaks.

10 Pulling Shami out of the attack when he was on a roll

You don’t pull your pace spearhead out of the attack when he has dismissed AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock and has South Africa on the mat at 163/5. Kohli brought in Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma, allowing South Africa the time to resurrect their innings and reach 258 in the end.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 20:52 IST