India’s strategy looked completely out of sync with modern day white ball game as the batters failed to keep the momentum in the middle overs and more importantly the bowlers, save Jasprit Bumrah, looked club class and without ideas of getting breakthroughs.
In two matches, India have been only able to pick up seven wickets — four in the first game when Proteas batted first and only three in the second.
Ravichandran Ashwin and especially Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the two senior-most bowlers looked far from threatening and the young Proteas batters like Rassie van der Dussen, Janneman Malan along with seniors like Quinton de Kock have feasted on the pedestrian stuff dished out by them.
With the two having flopped completely, it needs to be seen whether Rahul Dravid, the man who is currently calling all the shots as far as tactics is concerned, takes a dim view and at least try out Jayant Yadav and Deepak Chahar in the next game which would lend some freshness to the attack.
Worse, the first two games were played on a Boland Park strip that didn’t have a lot of pace and bounce and even skipper KL Rahul admitted that conditions were more familiar with what they get back home, compared to what they are used to getting in South Africa.
However at Newlands, there will be more pace and bounce on the track and the Indian team that has been perennially struggling would want to avoid the ignominy of a 0-3 loss.
For skipper Rahul, the whole tour, save his match-winning hundred in the first Test, has been a nightmare. Although he is being seen as a long-term future leader, there hasn’t been any spark whatsoever in his leadership that would make anyone sit up and feel that he is the one cut out for the job.
There hasn’t been any tactical improvisations in the two games so far which would inspire confidence in his leadership abilities.
Add to that, his own style of batting at the top of the order is outdated in modern ODIs and his inability to rotate the strike for the better part is also creating pressure on the later batters, who aren’t as adept at manoeuvring the strike.
It is a foregone conclusion that once Rohit Sharma is back in action, Rahul will lose his spot at the top of the order with Shikhar Dhawan scoring runs and at a better clip compared to his younger partner.
Virat Kohli’s energy missing in Rahul
Virat Kohli may have scored 51 in the first game but what is visible is his lack of energy on the field having been sacked from ODI captaincy.
He is doing his routines without getting too involved. While it is fair that he wants Rahul to grow into the job somewhere the infectious energy that he brings into the field and which normally rubs off on other younger players has been missing in the two games.
Rahul would do well to imbibe some of it from his former captain.
‘Mr’ and ‘Mr’ Iyer
The two Iyers — Shreyas in batting and Venkatesh as an all-rounder haven’t yet set the stage on fire and the main problem has been their inability to force the pace in the middle overs.
England became a solid ODI outfit by scoring consistently in the middle overs and this young South African team has also followed that template in the series which is missing in Indian game.
In all, massive improvement required in order to be competitive.
India: KL Rahul (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (captain), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Zubayr Hamza, Marco Jansen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne