Newlands, Cape Town presented a familiar story for an Indian cricket team. As it was in the past on many occasions, the current lot too started an overseas tour with a defeat. However, it was heartening to see Indian fast bowlers revel on a spicy pitch.
Before the Virat Kohli-led 17-man squad left for South Africa, there was hope among many that this bunch could do something which no other Indian team had done in the "Rainbow Nation".
But, after the opening contest in the three-Test rubber, it appears to be a false hope. However, they still have a chance to bounce back in the next two Tests in Centurion and Johannesburg.
Yesterday (January 8), India surrendered to the Proteas by 72 runs, as their batsmen came a cropper against the hosts' pacemen. India could not chase down 208.
The second Test starts in Centurion on January 13.
So, what went wrong for India in Cape Town? Here are five reasons for India's debacle
1. Collective failure of batsmen
The experts and fans knew India had the "best" bowling attack in recent times. And true to expectations, the pace quartet of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, debutant Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya delivered. On the opening morning of the Test, Bhuvneshwar sent South Africa on the backfoot as they were in trouble at 12/3. South Africa recovered to post 286.
In reply, India's batsmen failed. It was only because of Pandya's heroic knock of 93 that the visitors managed to reduce South Africa's lead. Eventually they were bowled out for 209. In the second innings, they had to score one run less than the first to achieve victory but they failed again, this time, blown away for a paltry 135. Captain Kohli too admitted that the team was let down by batsmen.
2. Letting South Africa score 250 plus in first innings
From 12/3, India should have closed out South Africa's first innings early. But that did not happen. They allowed AB de Villiers to counter attack. He and skipper Faf du Plessis hit half centuries and had a century stand for the fourth wicket. The Proteas should have been kept under 200 but the Indian bowlers gave away at least 80 runs more.
The first innings lead was 77 and the final margin of victory for the home team was 72. In the end, first innings runs mattered.
3. Wrong selection
Many were left surprised when India dropped vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. The Mumbai right-hander was among India's best when it came to performances abroad. How could the captain and team management ignore that and decide to bench him? Agreed he did not have a good home series against Sri Lanka but he had to be picked considering his past away record. His replacement Rohit Sharma had scores of 11 and 10 to show. Also, India should have gone in with KL Rahul for Shikhar Dhawan. The latter has struggled against the short ball and his technique is often questioned. Rahul is better equipped.
4. Lack of partnerships
In both innings, India lacked major batting partnerships. The opening combination of Murali Vijay and Shikhar had 16 and 30-run associations in the two innings. It was imperative for the duo to see of the new ball by leaving deliveries rather than playing all. But against a good attack like South Africa, it is easier said than done. Ahead of the match, Vijay had said he was "confident" of doing well but he managed only 1 and 13 in the Test.
5. Vernon Philander, the king of Cape Town
In Newlands, Cape Town, Philander was the biggest threat for India. Though he is not as quick as Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel, he excels by bowing in right areas. He was rewarded yet again for the same as he took a career-best 6/42 in the second innings. The right-arm paceman has taken 47 wickets in Cape Town at an impressive average of 16.34. His strike rate is 33.9.