There was a lot of hype around Virat Kohli-led India's ability to clinch an unprecedented Test series win in South Africa after they had dominated teams from across the world in subcontinent conditions over the last few seasons.
Buoyed by the consistent positive results at home, coach Ravi Shastri had said the team was capable of creating history in the "Rainbow Nation".
However, all hopes were dashed when India conceded an unassailable 2-0 lead to the Proteas in the ongoing three-match series after they succumbed to their second straight defeat in Centurion on Wednesday, January 17. The visitors lost the first Test in Cape Town by 72 runs.
Despite the bowlers picking up 40 wickets across two matches, the batting unit consistently failed, thereby letting the team down in both the Test matches.
Fingers are now being pointed at Kohli's inconsistent team selection and the batsmen's inability to cope up with conditions in South Africa. Lack of preparation time is also being considered as one of the major reasons for the team's abysmal showing.
India cancelled their only warm-up match in the lead up to the much-anticipated Test series and opted for a few training sessions.
Notably, the team had very little time to get used to South African conditions as they had completed a long series at home against Sri Lanka on December 24, 2017 and then flew out of the country on December 28.
Players, team management were not interested in Sri Lanka series
As it turns out, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ignored requests from the team management to shorten the Sri Lanka series in order to give themselves more time prepare for tougher challenges in South Africa, according to The Times of India newspaper.
India hosted Sri Lanka for three Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is in November-December 2017 few months after their dominant full tour to the island nation.
However, neither the team management nor the players were interested in the Sri Lanka series at home. They at least wanted the Test series to be scrapped, but the BCCI went ahead with the full series to make sure they compensated for the absence of India-Pakistan bilateral series, which was scheduled to be held around that time as per the Future Tours Programme (FTP).
The BCCI had offered to send a few Test regulars early to South Africa, but the team wanted to travel together.
The team management also decided against playing the warm-up match against Cricket South Africa (CSA) XI as they were not happy with the "lame" pitches offered for the tie.
"What purpose does it solve to send Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane alone? A team stays together and that's what the focus was," Team India camp said, as quoted by the newspaper report.
"As for the practice game, well, they (Cricket South Africa) offered us two lame tracks for the warm-up game and it made more sense to do our own thing instead of playing an odd game for the sake of it," it added.
Notably, Kohli had lamented about the cramped preparation time ahead of the South Africa series. India even prepared green pitches during the Sri Lanka series at home to get a feel of conditions in the "Rainbow Nation".
"Had we got a month of preparation time (ideally), we could have done a proper preparation camp. We have to make do with what we have. As usual it is cramped for time, which we need to assess in future as well," Kohli had said during the Sri Lanka series.