SPO_220123 SOUTH AFRICA-1642965093567
South Africa's players celebrate their series win after the third One Day International at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday. The hosts might not have many superstars, but they overcame India as a cohesive unit. Image Credit: AFP

India were whitewashed 3-0 by South Africa in the One Day International (ODI) series after they went down by four runs in the last one in Cape Town. It is not a surprise at all as this Indian team kept repeating the same mistake be it with the bat, ball or in the field and lead by a captain, who would like to forget this horror series.

KL Rahul captained India in the second Test when Virat Kohli had pulled out at the last moment and being a vice-captain he lead the team. India lost that Test and then he lead India in the ODIs with the same defensive style, which not only affected his batting, but also the results of all the matches he captained Team India.

Just to recap the series, Rahul had scored a fantastic hundred in the first Test at Centurion and not only India won that game but he also went on to win the man of the match award for his effort. In the second Test, Rahul did score a fifty, but his other batters disappointed and India lost that match easily. And when Kohli returned to captain in the third Test, there were hopes India would win the series, but South Africa seized the important moments in the game where India slipped and went down to lose the series 2-1.

When the ODI series began, South Africa had rested Kagiso Rabada and India were clear favourites in his absence. But South Africa had other ideas. The had no heroes, but had the hunger to beat India 3/0. The defeat in the last match might look close, thanks to Deepak Chahar’s valiant half century, but India kept repeating the same mistakes in all three games. In two of the three games both Shikar Dhawan and Kohli had got set, but could not finish the game. The middle order of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant all had enough experience and time but they went for glory rather than taking the game deep and finishing it. In the end, it looked so near, yet so far.

The 50-over World Cup is still 20 months away and being the hosts, it is India’s best chance to win it, but for that the Men in Blue need to plan it from the next series, starting against West Indies in February and identify the middle order batters who have the temperament to finish the game. India will also have to find the right bowlers to support Jasprit Bumrah, who seems to be the lone warrior with the ball. And, yes, the team need to get the energy Kohli had instilled back, which seemed to be missing completely.