South Africa cricket team, especially their batsmen, are being ruthlessly humiliated and embarrassed. And no, it's not by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Not even by Indian pacers like Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav. They have been left to feel ashamed by their own teammates! You must be wondering how. Let us explain.
In the second Test of the ongoing series, on a flat Pune pitch, the South African pacers bowled their hearts out and yet, got very few rewards. Keshav Maharaj also suffered heavily as the Indian batsmen treated him with utter contempt. Frustrated by the completely one-sided nature of the play, an exasperated Michael Vaughan tweeted his criticism for the pitch, blaming it for being too flat.
Then South Africa's turn to enjoy the batting-friendly conditions came. And what the world witnessed was a hopelessly poor display of batting from the Proteas top-order. Struggling against spin in India has become customary for most non-Asian teams. However, the top-order of the visitors was blown away by Indian pacers!
On a pitch where Kagiso Rabada bowled himself into dust by delivering 30 overs for just 3 wickets, where Vernon Philander and Anrich Nortje grinded through 26 and 25 overs respectively for no scalps, the Proteas batsmen seemed easy prey to Indian pacers.
At 162/8, things looked as gloomy as they could be for South Africa. All the talk of the pitch being too flat seemed farcical as Virat Kohli's side were all set to dismiss their opponents for a low score. But then, the pair of Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj, in the form of the ninth-wicket partnership, decided to teach a lesson to the more skilled batters in the side.
Philander and Maharaj ended up having a 109-run partnership that boosted their team's score to 275. Maharaj managed to register his first Test half-century. Philander remained unbeaten on 44. Both batsmen batted together for more than 42 overs. To put that in perspective, all the specialist batsmen in the side, except Faf du Plessis, were back in the pavilion after just 44.2.
That's not all. In the course of their innings, the two South Africans dealt with the Indian spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja with great efficiency and even saw off the spell of Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav with the new ball – something the top order completely failed at.
So, while the recognised batsmen of Proteas, who were supposed to lead the way, proved utterly incompetent and made the pitch look hard to bat on, the two lower-order batters showed that batting on this pitch was indeed much easier and scoring runs very much possible.
If the lower order batsmen can display such fortitude, such skill and provide such resistance to the Indian bowlers, why can't the batsmen who are paid to do this work? Surely, the South African batters must have felt embarrassed seeing two bowlers show them how to dig your heels in and bat on this wicket.