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South Africa end India’s dream run in Test cricket with Centurion win

Virat Kohli’s nine-series winning streak as Indian cricket team skipper came to an end as South Africa clinched a 135-run win in the Centurion Test to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2018 20:07 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Centurion
Virat Kohli,South Africa vs India,South Africa national cricket team
Lungi Ngidi picked up 6/39 as India lost the Centurion Test by 135 runs to hand Virat Kohli his first series loss as skipper.(BCCI)

There must be something fundamentally wrong with Cheteshwar Pujara’s approach, being run out twice in a match. There must be something fundamentally wrong with a team’s thinking when they go with Rohit Sharma’s form at home ahead of the proven Ajinkya Rahane and opt out of the only warm-up match. This result, though dreaded, isn’t surprising after all. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA HIGHLIGHTS)

In a repeat of the previous tours, another India team has flattered to deceive in South Africa. But while the previous lots were quietly hopeful of doing well here, this India team arrived making a lot of noise about its ability to break the jinx. Winning nine consecutive series only added to the hype but South Africa it is where the bubble has finally burst after a 135-run hammering at the Centurion. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA SCORECARD)

Kohli would have been fine had this been a close defeat like Newlands. But the stunning capitulation of the batting, leaving him the only one trying to force a favourable result doesn’t make for a great report card. With a masterful first-innings 153, Kohli the batsman has proved his mettle yet again. Kohli the captain though has made some choices that may have lost India this series even before it had started.

And as much as Kohli would defend his chopping and changing even when India was winning, continuing with that attitude wouldn’t have helped here. They needn’t look far to see how a set team performs. Dale Steyn’s injury gave South Africa a pace prodigy in Lungi Ngidi, who took six wickets on debut to prick India’s batting pride. No way will they change this team in Wanderers. The same can’t be said about India though.

Given however the way this series has progressed, India need to be hard on themselves and try to prevent South Africa from rubbing in a 3-0 humiliation. Heads should roll, particularly in the batting unit. Pujara’s untimely run out makes his place in the team untenable now. Parthiv Patel showed heart in his counterattacking batting but he could have tempered it to build a partnership with Rohit Sharma.

And for all the hyperboles spent on Hardik Pandya’s superlative 93 in Cape Town, he must understand that this is not a T20 match where going for a ramp shot to a wide and short ball is cool. Ultimately, India suffered from the lack of partnerships and South Africa flourished from them, even if it needed volumes of concentration and patience.

As senior partner, it was Rohit’s duty to control the situation and seek to build a partnership. India had three partnerships of fifty and over in this Test, the 79 between Kohli and Murali Vijay being the highest. South Africa had four such stands, with the 141-run second-innings stand between Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers being the highest. Kohli’s century was just not enough to get India back into the Test.

South Africa showed how it’s done --- sticking to the basics of knuckling down with the bat and catching everything that came their way. Having taller and faster bowlers helped but they too had to adapt to a pitch that they weren’t happy about to start with. That proves their class. India, on the other hand, will know a seaming, bouncy pitch didn’t end their dream run. Rather it was similar to those on which the nine consecutive series wins had come.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 20:01 IST