Bengaluru, January 8: This was the storyline everyone feared ahead of the trip and hoped India, led by Virat Kohli, to rewrite. But at the end of the fourth day, South Africa emerged 72-run winners, a substantial margin considering a full day's play was lost to rain.
Here, Mykhel takes a look into some of the reasons that led to India's defeat in the first Test at Cape Town on Monday (January 8).
Conceding too many runs in the Ist Innings
12/3. That was the situation South Africa found themselves on the opening day. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a dream spell to grab Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar. But the home side ended up with 286, perhaps a good 80 runs more than they should have scored.
Where did they go wrong
After that initial burst of wickets, the Indian quicks lost their focus and line. They gave away one too many boundary balls.
Bhuvneshwar (4.57), Hardik Pandya (4.41), Jasprit Bumrah (3.84) and Mohammad Shami (2.93) provided freebies to SA batsmen.
Shami's figures looked fine but scratch the top and you can see that he did not trouble the batsmen, bowling a flat spell.
The age-old issue came back to haunt them - tackling moving balls at sharp speed. Not undermining what they have achieved at home or at similar-to-home conditions, this Newlands pitch was a different beast and the South African pacers of different calibre. Yes, the pitch offered some jaffas from time to time. But more than the pace and bounce, the movement - especially by Vernon Philander - troubled them.
The perfect example
Virat Kohli was playing fluently and the pitch seemed eased out. But Philander got a couple of them moved away from Kohli and then jagged one back into him. BINGO. The ball hit Kohli's knee rolls and the Review was just a formality.
The kind of bowling attack they have especially on these pitches, they get extra bounce. You can't be casual, you can't play loose shots. Credit goes to their bowling attack. They force you to play good cricket in all overs: Virat Kohli, Indian captain after 1st test #INDvSA pic.twitter.com/xG1VstVvJJ— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2018
This was a gamble by the team management. They left out Ajinkya Rahane, a man who averages over 50 away from home, and opted for Rohit Sharma. Perhaps, Rahane's recent travails at home prompted the team to go for Rohit. But the strategy failed to click as Rohit never really looked the part.
Similarly, KL Rahul, a technically more-equipped opener, could have partnered M Vijiay. But the think-tank again opted for the in-form Shikhar Dhawan. It too did not work out.
Will the team management bring Rahane and Rahul back for the second Test? Let's wait.
Doesn’t help India in these conditions that two of their top three have a very defensive mindset. #IndvSa— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 8, 2018
India went into the first Test without playing a single warm-up game. One was scheduled but it was cancelled as informed by a mail from the BCCI. In 2011, some players went to South Africa early and had a chance to knock around in the Gary Kirsten Academy.
This time, there was no such meticulous planning as Test 'specialists' like M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara were cooling their heels after the home Tests against Sri Lanka. All they had in preparation were a few net sessions ahead the Cape Town Test.
In the end, it proved infinitely inadequate.