A substitute captain, who seemed incredibly short of ideas, few seniors at the end of their careers and a dated approach to white-ball cricket – India’s misfortunes during the tour of South Africa were many, transforming this which started memorably into an eminently forgettable outing.
The signs were worrying even before they left with former test skipper Virat Kohli’s much-publicized acrimony with senior BCCI officials.
The whole episode didn’t leave the team in a good place and once there everything went haywire after the opening test victory.
Also read: India fined for slow over-pricing after losing third ODI
Substitute ODI captain KL Rahul then had to do a lot with too little at his disposal against an opposition that had gained invaluable confidence.
In the end, it turned out to be a nightmare with dark clouds hanging over the future of this Indian team and no sign of ‘VIBGYOR’ in the Rainbow Nation.
Virat Kohli and his problems
Kohli might not admit it, but the former captain is going through the toughest phase as a cricketer after dropping the captaincy in two out of three formats and being sacked in another.
But because he’s Kohli and in a different class, he shot a nice 79 in the third lost test, where he looked the best.
He also got two half centuries of ODI with minimal fuss where he looked more like a hoarder than the enforcer one associates with ‘King Kohli’.
Also read: One-day series a ‘revelation’ for India, says Dravid
The collapse in Cape Town with his misdirected anger at broadcasters for a DRS gone wrong also tarnished his reputation and letting the game drift with mindless antics was not his finest hour when it came to judging his temper .
KL Rahul missed his lines
But if one is being very frank, KL Rahul may have missed his chance to be a long-term option in any format once Kohli stepped down as Test captain after losing the Test series.
“Did KL Rahul look like a captain to you?” a senior BCCI official cross-examined the PTI when asked if he would be considered for the Test captain position taking into account Rohit Sharma’s injury history.
It’s understood coach Rahul Dravid wants to see his namesake as a long-term option and it was obvious he didn’t want to blame his captain.
“He did more than a decent job and a big part of captaincy is how your players execute skills. We were short on the ODI side. He will constantly grow and improve as he will lead more”, Dravid’s observation drifted to the old adage of a captain living up to his team.
Also Read: Obviously We Wrong, Don’t Fear Says KL Rahul
But what would hurt Rahul more was his batting approach which was more about self-preservation. The 55 out of 79 balls in the second ODI deserve more criticism for the wasted balls and unturned strike than for the runs he racked up.
It is certain that Rahul, if he is to be in the white ball pattern, will have to strike in the middle order and be a finisher.
His bowling changes didn’t work out mid overs and after seeing Temba Bavuma make inspired moves like starting the attack with Aiden Markram he introduced Ravichandran Ashwin early in a game but that was more of a reactive than proactive movement. a.
Lack of fearlessness in Test matches
What stuck out like a sore thumb was the fact that even the biggest of Proteas fans couldn’t have imagined that a team facing massive transition issues and a manager facing commission investigating his racial misconduct, would turn on the heat and win. five out of six international matches and that too at a gallop.
The South Africans played well at cricket, but were generously helped by an Indian team that did not follow the chops on its proclaimed cricketing philosophies.
There was no fearlessness for much of the tour, no innovative and original thinking and at times they seemed to run out of skill.
Also read: Rohit Sharma set to be India’s full-time Test captain: Ravi Shastri
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane showed some spark in the second set of the second Test, but for the most part they weren’t playing their positive game.
Pujara and Rahane didn’t even score 200 runs in six innings and the latter’s mode of dismissal – catching the wicket keeper or sliding to the back of the length of increasing deliveries on the off-stump channel – became embarrassing after some point.
If two careers have truly reached the finish line, it is this duo as giving them a chance to succeed against a weak Sri Lanka at home would be a travesty for Hanuma Vihari, who has been waiting for his opportunities for a long time.
Speaking of bowling, Ishant Sharma not being among India’s top five point guards doesn’t bode well for the man of 100 tests as it seems the management don’t have much faith in him anymore.
Bowling seemed overly reliant on Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in Test matches, but both will need a rest from time to time.
Ashwin performed decently, but this was another tour to a SENA country where the lack of conducive wickets meant he was largely ineffective.
Ashwin’s second coming to whiteball cricket wasn’t great either as he looked flat and out of ideas.
The South Africans have played him with ease in all formats and it’s highly unlikely that Ashwin will feature much in India’s clean-ball scheme ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
If Ashwin was a disappointment, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was an absolute disaster as his pace seemed to have dropped a few notches and the swing was gone.
The bowling lacked pizzazz as well as variation, something that hurt India in the middle overs and Dravid was the first to admit that.
“Without just saying spinners, we think we need to improve our wicket-taking options in the middle overs, spinners play a big part in that, but you also have rapids coming back and the type of balls we roll “Dravid said.
“We’ve discussed it and we’ve talked about it and we understand that it’s an area of the game that we’ve fallen a bit behind.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of learnings from this tour, things that we need to keep improving and improving, and getting the staff to do some things where we’re probably lacking a bit. The good thing is that we have had to time in ODI cricket to fix those things,” Dravid said.
Pant’s Approach and Shreyas’ Weakness
The time is probably right for the Indian team to accept that Rishabh Pant comes as a package with dismissals that enrage people and then play a gem that only he can play.
But the biggest problem is Shreyas Iyer, whose technical deficiency against the short ball was poorly exposed on this tour, even though it was talked about in Indian cricket circles.
This is also one of the reasons why Shreyas is still not considered a ready replacement for Pujara or Rahane as he might be deemed insufficient to test the red ball conditions.
When it comes to the white ball, Dravid had established the mandate and that means ‘security and stability would be provided, but strong performance will also be required’.
Chahar and Shardul only silver lining
If there is one bright spot from this tour it is that Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar are taking an extra step to show that they can be used as versatile players in the future which also impressed Rahul Dravid .
“Certainly he (Deepak Chahar) has shown us in the opportunities he’s had in Sri Lanka and here too that he has very good batting abilities and I’ve seen him at Indian A level to be honest, and I know he can hit very well and certainly gives us some great options
“…and having people like him, Shardul also being able to contribute with the bat, more and more players who can contribute with the bat lower certainly makes a big difference and gives us more options.”
These two will have plenty of games in the future.
“We would like to give him a few more games with Shardul and other people as well who can come in over time next year, and hopefully give us that depth in the squad,” he said.
Watch the latest DH videos here: