Kohli’s century in vain as India loses the series

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The theory that India rules like a king in the sub-continent but falters like a pauper overseas was proved again when they lost to South Africa by 135 runs in the second Test at Centurion yesterday. As they had lost the first Test at Cape Town a week ago by 72 runs, they have lost the 3-match series 0-2.

Although South African bowlers were effective ”“ especially debutant Lungi Ngidi ”“ Indian batsmen with few exceptions batted as if they were playing a T20 match. Especially on the final day. What annoyed me was not so much India losing but the way they batted in the second innings. It was irresponsible to say the least.

South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and batted. With opener Aiden Markram scoring 94, bearded Hashim Amla 82 and du Plassis 63, the home team managed 335 runs. Ravichandran Ashwin turned the ball as if he was playing on an Indian pitch and took 4 for 113.

Skipper Virat Kohli scored a superb 153 with 15 elegant fours, Murali Vijay 46 and India replied with 307, only 28 runs behind.

Then Jasprit Bumrah struck crippling blows dismissing Markram and Amla for three runs. Game on, we thought. Not so.

Opening batsman Dean Elgar (61 runs), the legendary AB de Villiers (80) and du Plessis (48) fought back and South Africa managed 258. Fast bowlers Mohammad Shami captured 4-49 and Bumrah 3-70. Ashwin spun the ball splendidly but with little luck as catches were dropped off his bowling.

Needing 287 runs to win India collapsed for 151 to lose by 135 runs. At one stage they were 7 down for 87, a disgraceful show of poor batting once Kohli fell for 5 and Cheteshwar Pujara was unfortunately run out for 19. He was also run out for a duck in the first innings.

Pujara became the first Indian to be run out in both the innings. Granting that the fielding of South Africa was superlative and 21 year-old debutant quickie Lungi Ngidi (6-39) bowled marvellously, the visitors (with the exception of Rohit Sharma 47) batted irresponsibly.

My hats off to young Ngidi who was named Man of the Match. Much more is expected from him.

Indian bowlers have given their best but their batsmen and fielders have let them down in the series so far. Even in the previous Test in Cape Town last week India was bundled out for 209 and 135.

In this low-scoring series, Kohli is the only batsman from both sides to score a century.

Kohli summed it up neatly when he said, “At the end of the day one team has to lose. As a team you always try to win. You can accept defeat but not the way we played, the way we let the advantage slip out of our hand. That is not acceptable from a team’s point of view. So many soft dismissals in one match hurt a lot.

“Because you work so hard, you prepare for a match, you get into good situations, shift the game towards you, and then the momentum shifts because of these mistakes. That feels very bad as a team. Individuals have to sit and reflect on these things themselves. They do it, I am not saying they don’t, reflect on it but we have repeated these mistakes in both matches.”

Hope India does better in the final Test starting next Wednesday in Johannesburg. Their No. 1 ranking in Test cricket is at stake.


Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=10329