In the end, two days was all it needed for the bubble of Indian batting to burst. Officially, the number one ODI team in the world, India arrived in South Africa on a high, following some tremendous performances in one-dayers at home against Australia and the West Indies. The youngsters in the squad grabbed their opportunities well. But, right from the start, everyone knew that that their biggest test was to come in South Africa, on the fast and bouncy tracks, and against some quality fast bowling. Sadly for the Indian fans, they flunked.
Even when they were performing well in India, it was mostly the top three that was taking India through. However, against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, India’s top three came unstuck. While the Indian batsmen are still young, as is the whole side, inexperience cannot be one of the factors that the defeat can be put down to. It would be pertinent to remember that both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were part of India’s ODI during the previous series in South Africa back in 2010. Also, both were in excellent form back in India, so they ought to have done better here.
As for Shikhar Dhawan, he was part of the India A squad that toured South Africa earlier in the year, and tasted a lot of success as well. But when it mattered the most, in international cricket, he couldn’t stand up to the challenge. In both the losing matches, at Johannesburg and Durban, he played poor shots to be dismissed early on. The same can be said of Sharma and Kohli as well. With the middle and lower order of India so low on confidence barring MS Dhoni the Indians were always going to struggle once the top three failed.
The two massive defeats, by well over 100 runs, is an eye opener for India. It is all very well scoring bucketful of runs in home-friendly conditions, but the efforts of India’s top three, all of whom have over 1000 runs in ODI cricket this year, have been diluted to some extent owing to their low scores in this series. Of course, their great performances throughout the year deserve a lot of credit, since they also won the Champions Trophy in England. Without doubt though, the ODI series was their biggest challenge, in which they have been embarrassed.
Not only the top three, India’s batting as a whole was mediocre. Ajinkya Rahane got a rare opportunity to prove his worth, but played the most atrocious shot possible. Further, Suresh Raina got starts, and had a chance to build a big innings even if India lost, but he did not seem to be too keen on the same. The series was further proof that Ravindra Jadeja’s batting is a liability on the side when conditions get tough for batting. India’s technique was always going to be exposed in South Africa, but mentally as well they were dented badly by Proteas’ fast and furious approach. Hope the arrogant BCCI sits up and takes notice of the same. --By A Cricket Analyst