Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar has rued the lack of practice matches for Virat Kohli and Co ahead of the ongoing three-Test series against South Africa.
India, the number one-ranked Test side, headed into the Cape Town Test directly after cancelling their tour game against Cricket South Africa XI. However, the visitors were involved in a two-day training session, in which they simulated conditions and match scenarios.
The Indian batting unit — especially its top order — was blown away by the South African pace attack. In reply to the hosts' 286, India were reeling at 92 for 7 before Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar combined to help the team post 209 on the board.
The lack of preparation time to get used to the conditions was evident as the top six, including captain Virat Kohli, looked at sea against the likes of Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and an injured Dale Steyn.
"India should have played a few practice matches to adapt better. They will improve from here on. Now that they have got the feel of the wicket, they will perform better. The match is still wide open," Vengsarkar was quoted by the Times of India as saying.
He added: "As India had already played a series against Sri Lanka in Lanka, the recent series played on the Indian soil was unnecessary."
Despite a washout on the third day (Sunday), South Africa are in the driver's seat with a lead of 148 runs over India. A lot will now depend on how effective the Indian bowlers can be in the second innings as anything more than 250 might be impossible to chase in Newlands.
Kohli wanted a month's time for preparation
Meanwhile, India completed their limited-over series against Sri Lanka on December 24, 2017, and left for South Africa just three days later. Notably, the Kohli-led Indian team had been busy playing continuous international cricket since the Champions Trophy 2017.
The Asian giants even prepared relatively faster tracks for the three-Test series against Sri Lanka in November-December to get a feel of the pace-rich South African tracks.
Kohli, though, had expressed disappointment at the cramped schedule, saying India would have ideally wanted a month's time to prepare for the South Africa challenge.
"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.