India started the tour to South Africa on the best possible note. They raced away to a clinical win at the Centurion. Not many had expected India to roll over Africa this easily. But they did just that at South Africa’s fortress. India were on the cusp of history heading into the 2nd Test at Johannesburg. It’s a venue where India hadn’t lost a game up until this game.
But they came well short of a professional South African side in the 2nd Test. SA were the better team on all days of the Test. India couldn’t land the winning punch any time during the game. They thereby lost a golden opportunity to win their first series with a game to go. The teams will now square off at Cape Town for the series decider. India have never won a game at Cape Town. They have drawn 2 and lost 3 Test matches at this venue.
We look at factors that India needs to do right in the series finale:
#3 Body language
The team missed their regular Test captain, Virat Kohli badly on the field. Their on-field aggression while batting didn’t find substance when they fielded. India had not lost a game defending more than 150 for over a decade. But they simply didn’t have enough energy in the 2nd innings to counter the home side.
India need to put up a better show in the field in the series decider. With the impending return of their talismanic skipper, Kohli is expected to lift the side.
#2 Clinical batting Display
The big reason why India failed in the 2nd Test was owing to their dismal first innings batting show. It was India’s paltry score of 202 that proved to be inadequate in the end. They failed to build partnerships that hampered their progress. India who posted 300+ at Centurion flattered to deceive at Johannesburg.
They couldn’t drive the momentum in the 2nd innings too. Their batsmen got carried away after registering strong starts. India would do well to correct this glaring mistake.
#1 Bowlers sticking to disciplined line and lengths
Indian pacers were relentless in the first Test. They squeezed the opposition with fine discipline. Indian bowlers stifled the Proteas bowling in the corridor of uncertainty. But they seemed to have got their plans wrong in the 2nd Test. They bowled all over the place, especially in the 2nd innings.
India should be careful that they answer aggression not just with words but with their actions. A facet they displayed brilliantly at Lords but fell for the trap at Centurion.
If India are able to execute these factors right, they will be setting themselves up for a historic maiden series win.