Team India lost the series 2-1 to South Africa and also their dream of conquering the South African soil for the first time in Test cricket.
South Africa gunned down 212 to register a 7-wicket win in the third Test, just a week after they had successfully chased 240 with also 7 wickets in hand in the second Test following a loss in the first Test against Team India.
While the bowlers didn’t make use of the surface as India would have hoped for in the final innings of both the lost Test, it was the collective batting efforts or the lack of it that was dismal. Team India captain Virat Kohli, too, lamented the inconsistency in the batting department, saying that they need to have a look into their malfunctions over a long period now before going into the next series.
Here’s a report card of how team India fared in the South Africa Test series:
KL Rahul was India’s top scorer in the series with 226 runs, scored with a help of a match-winning hundred in Centurion and a fifty in Johannesburg. However, Rahul wasn’t able to impact much in the game with the bat in his last innings with scores of 8, 12, and 10.
Mayank Agarwal’s 60 in the first innings of the first Test was really crucial for the century partnership between him and Rahul set the tone for India’s dominance then. He also got starts in both innings in the second Test but failed to convert it into a considerable knock.
Pujara registered three single-digit scores in the series, and one entertaining fifty in the second Test. He also scored a fighting 43 in the third Test. Pujara finished with 124 runs, failing to deliver on the expectations.
Kohli missed out on the second Test due to back spasms, but returned with a high-class, patient knock of 79 in the third Test. In the three other innings he batted in, Kohli got off to starts, but couldn’t take those further into a match-turning outing. He finished with an average of 40.25 across four innings.
Rahane was hanging b ya thread for his place in India’s eleven. After his last three innings, marked at 0, 9, and 1, he may be dropped from the side. Despite playing two innings that have weight in terms of numbers – 48 in the first Test and 58 in the second – Rahane barely looked completely settled at the crease.
Pant came into the third Test with plenty of criticism thrown at him for his poor choice of shot in the second Test. However, with a remarkable 100* – which was more than half of the team’s total – Pant once again proved why he is so highly rated by the management. Having scored 86 runs in his first five innings of the series, Pant took that tally to 186, India’s second-best of the series.
Vihari will consider himself a tad unlucky to have not played in two Tests in the series, but the one in which he got the chance – in Johannesburg due to injury to Kohli – the right-hander once again showed his solidity. He registered scores of 20 and 40* while batting with the tail, and looked as bit composed as he was in Sydney last year.
It would be really unfortunate if Vihari is not given chances in the coming Tests, especially considering the disappointment some of the other batters have been.
Ashwin’s numbers in this series – batting average of 14 and 3 wickets at 60 – further highlighted the importance of Ravindra Jadeja in the all-rounder’s role at number 7. Even though the surfaces in this series weren’t conducive to spin-bowling, him not being able to trouble the batters enough was below his standards.
India’s other “all-rounder” in the series, Shardul Thakur, had a breakthrough tour though. He swivelled his bat around for a couple of quick, crucial counter-attacks and registered record-breaking figures of 7/61 in the second Test. His reputation of making things happen was evident throughout the series, including on the final day.
Shami finished as India’s leading wicket-taker in the series – 14 wickets at 21. His five-wicket haul in the first Test was a testament to his potency with the ball in hand. He had a wood over Aiden Markram, dismissing the opener four times.
Bumrah would consider himself really unlucky in this series, for he induced false shots from the South African batters frequently, but didn’t manage to bag wickets for his bowling’s worth.
He dismissed Dean Elgar four times in the series, and could have had the South African captain in Johannesburg as well where Elgar played and missed on numerous occasions to Bumrah. He finished the series with a five-for in Cape Town, but with not quite the desired result.
Siraj managed to pick 3 wickets at an average of 51 in the first two Tests before he got injured and missed the third Test. The young pacer has in past been a key contributor to India’s overseas victories and this series – a disappointing collective and individual effort – could be a pivotal learning curve for Siraj.
Umesh Yadav came in for Siraj ahead of Ishant Sharma in the third Test. He could pick up only 2 wickets at an average of 50. He failed to build on the pressure created by Shami and Bumrah, leaking runs at 4 per over.