While most people would have anticipated a win for India in the 3-match Test series against South Africa and some would have even predicted a clean sweep, the utter humiliation that South Africa endured would not have been foreseen.
Normally, even the most one-sided series provides some positives for the losing team. But in this one, there wasn't a single streak of silver lining amidst the dark clouds for the visitors. Their performance went into a downward spiral which continually accelerated until they hit absolute rock-bottom in their final innings.
So, with the series done and dusted, it's time for us to identify the main causes of this result. Why India were so dominant and South Africa so spineless. Let's identify the 4 main reasons for this decimation inflicted on Proteas by India.
In the third Test, it was clear that the South Africans were mentally destroyed already. The number of dismissals where the batsmen got bowled to largely straight deliveries shows that, psychologically, Faf du Plessis' team were out of sorts. The very fact that the captain of the visiting team used a proxy for the toss in the hope that it would change his luck showed how desperate he was.
When a team starts feeling that they need good luck to compete, they are in a pitiable state. That's what happened to South Africa.
One of the biggest reasons why the South Africans seemed completely clueless when bowling was the fact that there was no support for Kagiso Rabada. The young pacer bowled his heart out and got early breakthroughs for his team. He progressively got better as the series went on. But, Vernon Philander failed to be of any consequence. He kept things tight, but without wickets, that is useless.
With Philander having proven innocuous, there was no hope for South Africa of picking up 20 wickets. If Rabada had another wicket-taking bowler at the other end, things might have been tougher for Indian batsman. One bowler alone cannot make the whole attack succeed.
A lot was expected from Keshav Maharaj on this tour. He failed miserably. The Indian batsmen treated him the same way that their predecessors used to treat Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. But Maharaj was still the best among all the tweakers South Africa possessed. Dane Piedt was a signal failure and Senuran Muthusamy hardly registered on the radar.
Without potency in the spin bowling attack, the Proteas were left helpless in the face of Indian batting onslaught. In both the second and third Test, after Rabada got early breakthroughs for his team, the spinners let the Indian batsmen resurrect the innings.
Problems with no.3
The South African batting order is not settled yet. With Hashim Amla's retirement, the no. 3 position has been vacated and no suitable replacement found yet. This is a huge problem. This position is absolutely pivotal. If the batsman who comes in after the fall of first wicket also gets out easily, then the middle order gets exposed. This is what happened to SA during the entire tour. This is an issue that will have to be addressed very soon by the Proteas.