Teams batting first win 90 per cent of the games at Wanderers, India, after winning the toss, twice frittered away the advantage to a more hungry and determined South Africa team and lost the second Test inside four days.
KL Rahul and Mayank had seen of the new ball in the first hour but lost their way and were bowled out for just 202 in the first innings. India were down and out but Shardul Thakur bought them back with a mesmerising spell, bagging seven wickets and keeping the South African lead to just 27 runs and the match in balance.
India in spite of loosing Rahul and Agarwal had steadied the ship with both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane putting on a 111-run partnership in the second, but once again lost their way — loosing their last seven wickets for the addition of just 110 runs. Except Hanuma Vihari, who got a chance because Virat Kohli had back spams, none of the batsman applied themselves and played Test cricket the way it should have been played, especially on a wicket that is playing up and down.
Pujara, Rahane and Vihari batted a total of 45 overs and the rest seven batted just 15 overs between them. India, for the second time in the Test, were bowled out in 60 overs and did not learn from their mistakes in the first innings.
South Africa had five recognised batsman and a new wicketkeeper-batsman in Kyle Verreynee and lacked the experience. They were the team who were down 1-0 before the second Test and had to desperately win the game to stay in the series. India could have outbatted South Africa with a gutsy and fighting game, but I am afraid they lacked the hunger and didn’t play a tight game, which lead to their downfall. On the other hand, South African captain Dean Elgar showed to team India on how to lead from the front — taking blows on body and arm and fighting it out — and won the game for his team to square the series.
There is no doubt India missed Kohli not only as a batman, but most importantly as a captain who’s positive energy rubs on to the whole team. India missed the opportunity to seal the series, can they do it against a confident South African team in the third? Only time will tell, but for sure in Test cricket you need to show good fight and resilience and the team that does these better will have the final say.