If things were bad for the South African team on their tour of India, they are now turning into a nightmare of the worst kind. The exclamation point came for the Proteas in the short session of play post-Tea on day 2 when the visitors came out to bat, after Indian team had declared their innings at 497/9.
With Aiden Markram missing due to injury, Quinton de Kock was sent in to open the innings with Dean Elgar. What transpired was something that should make the South African team feel nothing short of embarrassment. Both the openers were dismissed by the Indian new ball opening pair – Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav – in a manner that was most painful.
They were bounced out. A rising delivery from Shami caught the glove as the batsman attempted to drop his wrists and the edge was taken by Wriddhiman Saha behind the wickets. De Kock got a nasty bouncer from Yadav at his throat which he tried to fend away and only managed to glove it to Saha.
For two South African batsmen to be bounced out by Indian bowlers, that too on an Indian wicket, is downright embarrassing. The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were supposed to be the big threats, but for the pacers to also tear apart their batting is shocking.
One can only imagine how bad Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi would be feeling in the dressing room. These two bowled their hearts out against the Indian batsmen, only to get clattered around the ground by them. Now, they have to witness their counterparts from India, on the same pitch, knocking batsmen over with bounce and pace. It must be very disheartening.
It's hard to believe that these batsmen are technically-deficient against pace bowlers. Having grown up in South African conditions, dealing with sharp, rising deliveries must have been commonplace. Their timid dismissals were, most probably, a result of despondency and scattered minds.
The usage of Temba Bavuma for the toss may have seemed to be a matter of humour to Virat Kohli and everyone else. But it revealed something very important: that South Africa feel they can't do much without batting first. The desperation to win the toss conveys a feeling of helplessness on the part of Proteas captain and would have sent the wrong message to his team.
In 2012, England won a Test series in India despite losing the toss in both the matches which they won. With South Africa, the moment a partnership starting rebuilding the innings after early setbacks, a feeling of déjà vu likely sets in. This series would probably end in a 3-0 loss for the visitors. A lot needs to be done to revive the side.