Virat Kohli has rued the batting collapse and 30-45 minutes of bad cricket as India missed a golden chance to win their first-ever Test series in South Africa against a weakened Proteas side.
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team had ended a glorious 2021 on an absolute high. They had won in two fortresses of The Gabba and Centurion. They ended up with the most away wins in that year. The South Africa team was reeling with the absence of star batters and also the mid-series retirement of Quinton de Kock. The win in Centurion had put them on the cusp of securing their first-ever series win in South Africa. They had a tall order to chase in Johannesburg as well. But, in the space of nine days, India’s challenge wilted away.
Dean Elgar’s 96* in Johannesburg paved the way for the Proteas’ first win in the Wanderers against India. In Cape Town, Keegan Petersen’s twin fifties combined with hostile spells from Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi gave South Africa a thrilling seven-wicket win. From all the gains in Centurion, India squandered a golden chance of winning their first-ever Test series in South Africa.
When asked as to what was the main factor behind the series loss, Virat Kohli minced no words during the post-match presentation. “One of the challenges that we have faced touring abroad is to capitalise on momentum when it is on our side. Whenever we have done that, we’ve won games. But on other hand, when we haven’t done so, we have lost matches due to 30-45 minutes of cricket where we have batted badly. We have had too many batting collapses. Of course, it (batting) has been the reason, no doubt about that. Their bowlers were just better in terms of their execution and applying pressure. Batting is certainly something to be looked at. No excuses there. It’s really disappointing for sure,” Kohli said.
Virat Kohli does have a point. When India has failed to bat well, the opposition has prospered. India’s only loss in 2020 in Australia came when they were bundled out for 36 in Adelaide. The loss in England was at Leeds in which they were bowled out for 78. In South Africa, they did not suffer from low scores but rather from bad sessions.
In Johannesburg, they were bowled out for 202. India lost eight wickets for 111 runs in the second innings which in hindsight hurt them. The Cape Town Test was no different. Apart from Kohli’s 79 and Cheteshwar Pujara’s 43, none of the other batsmen contributed. In the second innings, take away Rishabh Pant’s 100 and extras of 28, the rest of the batting contributed just 70 runs. These bad patches in their batting have really hurt India in the past SENA tours as well. Three epic collapses in South Africa, as well as two in England in 2018 saw them lose both the tours. “We did well in Australia and England but that doesn’t guarantee us success in South Africa. The reality is that we haven’t won here in South Africa and we have to deal with it,” Kohli said.
The bowling from both sides was spectacular. Kagiso Rabada was the star with 20 wickets, followed by Jansen who took 19 wickets. Ngidi chipped in with 15 while the Indians were not far behind. Mohammed Shami was the leading wicket-taker with 14 followed by Shardul Thakur and Jasprit Bumrah with 12.
“I thought South Africa performed better in those key moments and totally deserved the win. The opposition bowlers bowled well this series but generally, we haven’t been consistent,” Kohli said. The inability of the Indian team to win in South Africa this time could haunt them for a long time.