Vaunted batting line-up fails yet again after bowlers give India a winning chance against South Africa
Vernon Philander traps Virat Kohli leg before. Pic/Getty Images
If they give us a hard time, we will give them a harder time, Ravi Shastri, coach of the Indian team, had said when asked if India’s batsmen might be made to hop by South Africa’s bowlers in spicy conditions. It turned out to be exactly the reverse as India’s bowlers set their team up perfectly to make history and the batsmen let the team down.
This happened for the second time in the opening India vs South Africa Test at Newlands here yesterday. South Africa’s batsmen did everything possible to leave the door ajar for India, losing their last eight wickets for only 65 runs, slumping to 130 all out in the second innings, leaving India to chase 208 with five sessions to play. India ended up losing the Test by 72 runs.
Shikhar Dhawan ducks a bouncer on Day Four yesterday. Pic/AFP
South Africa’s batsmen did everything possible to leave the door ajar for India, losing their last eight wickets for only 65 runs, slumping to 130 all out in the second innings, leaving India to chase 208 with five sessions to play. Time was at hand, the conditions were far from unplayable and South Africa were without Dale Steyn, one of the great fast bowlers of all time. What more could India ask for? Well, a bit of patience, a touch of class and the ability to stay humble and adapt to conditions would have gone a long way. Shikhar Dhawan played the short ball as he might the violin, like an amateur, and was put out of his misery early.
M Vijay, a touch too eager to feel bat on ball, played at one that he would have left alone only a year ago. Cheteshwar Pujara was given a reminder that whatever India’s bowlers could do, South Africa’s could do better. Jasprit Bumrah had sent down a brute earlier in the day to dismiss Faf du Plessis for a duck, and Morne Morkel showed who was boss, returning the favour to Pujara, an unplayable lifter destined for the ‘keeper’s gloves making minimal but sufficient contact with the bat on the way.
Virat Kohli got the perfect delivery in the first innings, and in the second, he was set up by a bowler on top of his game. After sending down a succession of away swingers, Vernon Philander bent one back and the captain was suckered, trapped plumb in front. Rohit Sharma, preferred over Ajinkya Rahane on current form, although the latter averages a mere 53.44 overseas and has proven himself in every cricket ground worth its name, was once again far from up to the challenge. Almost bounced out, Rohit then hung his bat loosely outside off, and the stumps were shattered.
R Ashwin delayed the inevitable with 37, the highest score of the innings, but the end, when it came, was swift and stunning. India had lost inside of three days — a whole day was lost to rain — with 34 overs going unused. It wasn’t quite stealing defeat from the jaws of victory, but it was a painful reminder of why Indian teams of the past had never succeeded in South Africa.
Number of wickets to fall on Day Four of the Test yesterday
The number of dismissals effected by Wriddhiman Saha – the most by an Indian wicketkeeper in a Test