The one line that Virat Kohli said soon after the Test got over summed up all of India’s misery. “The batting has to be looked into. There’s no running away from that.” It takes 20 wickets to win a Test match. But it takes runs on board to earn those 20 wickets. In that lies the why and how of India’s series defeat in South Africa. “Having collapses every now and then is not a good thing. No excuses there,” the skipper said. Team India were expected to beat South Africa in South Africa for the first time with absolute authority.
For the first time, ‘will they?’ had taken a backseat and ‘they will’ was the talking point when the India boarded the flight to the Rainbow Nation. Unfortunately for Kohli and his team, once again ‘they couldn’t’.
“We know how far we’ve come as a team. That people expect us to beat South Africa in South Africa is testimony to how far we’ve come. We haven’t done it, that’s the reality, accept it and come back as better cricketers,” Kohli added.
The captain refused to spell out right now if the result of this Test series would force changes in the side. “I cannot answer that now. We’ve not had the time to think about all that yet,” is all he maintained.
Sooner rather than later, he and coach Rahul Dravid will have to find a time and occasion to give it a thought.
One thing the skipper did add, and rightly so: “South Africa have been deserving winners.”
South Africa win the final Test by 7 wickets and clinch the series 2-1.#SAvIND https://t.co/r3pGCbbaTx
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1642161382000
The hosts seized moments and the visitors didn’t and that remained the one big difference between the two teams in the second and the third Test. “In both Tests that they won, they were clinical with the ball in crunch moments. Lapse of concentration cost us key moments. One of the challenges we’ve faced touring abroad is to make sure we capitalize on momentum. When we’ve done that, we’ve won Tests away from home. When we haven’t, they’ve cost us quite badly,” Kohli said.
The middle-order debate is going to rankle this Indian team until they firm themselves up for a change. In spite of the significance of batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in this format, the fact remains that they’ve been out of form, looked out of place, and lacked instincts to overcome the weaknesses that have crept in. Kohli himself has now gone 30 international innings without a hundred and it has all systematically added to the team’s woes.
This Indian team has been left with no choice but to undergo a change and the responsibility to bring that in lies on the national selectors and coach Dravid. The likes of Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and others have either been in the waiting or in and out of the squad for far too long now.