India failed to hold on their unbeaten streak at the Wanderers on Thursday when they lost to South Africa in the second Test in the ongoing three-match series by seven wickets. India had won the first game at Centurion. The third and final Test starts in Cape Town on January 11.
India rode on KL Rahul’s 50 and Ravichandran Ashwin’s 46 to put 202 on board in the first innings. South Africa took a 27-run lead in reply. In the second innings, under-fire Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored half-centuries before India were all out for 266, giving the hosts a 240-run target to win the match. (Scorecard)
Skipper Dean Elgar’s unbeaten 96 and contributions from Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen helped South Africa overhaul the target in 67.4 overs. India have been touring South Africa for the last 30 years. The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg was the only venue where India remained unbeaten before this game.
India had played five Test matches at the Wanderers before this game where they won two and drawn three Tests. It is also the same ground where current India head coach Rahul Dravid scored his maiden Test century in 1997. India’s first-ever win in South Africa also happened to be here in 2006.
However, Dravid pointed out several factors which cost India the game on Thursday.
Lack Of Conversions
Dravid rued several Indian batters failed to capitalize on the starts. While KL Rahul got a fifty in the first innings, Pujara and Rahane got out soon after scoring half-centuries in the second. “Maybe some of the guys who got starts could have converted into hundreds and that was the difference in the first Test as we had Rahul in the first game, who had got a hundred for us and we ended up on the winning side,” Dravid said.
“And in the second game they (South Africa) had someone (Dean Elgar) scoring 96 and they ended up on the winning side. We have to certainly look to seize a few key moments and certainly when you get those partnerships, maybe make them a little bit longer,” added the former India captain.
‘We Were 70 Runs Short In First Innings’
Dravid stressed out that India were probably 60-70 runs short in the first innings. “We could have probably got 60-70 runs more in that first innings. Probably that could have made a significant difference to this game and we would like to bat a bit better and need to keep improving,” said Dravid. India so far have now crossed 300 only once in four innings.
Dean Elgar’s Character In The Middle
The India head coach also credited Dean Elgar for showing a lot of character as he had stuck out for his team in both Tests and this time his unbeaten 96 got his team on level terms with India. “He did well. You have to give him credit as he stuck it out there in both the Test matches and he is fought through some very difficult periods,” Dravid said.
“We have beaten the bat quite a few times and we haven’t been really lucky. The odd ball kicked up, hit the gloves and he didn’t look comfortable but stuck out. He has shown a lot of resilience and determination,” said Dravid.
Height Issue Of Indian Pacers
Dravid observed that the pitch ‘misbehaved’ a touch more in terms of variable bounce when the taller South African pacers were in operation compared to their Indian counterparts. “It felt to us that sitting outside, quite a few balls (bowled by SA pacers) kicked up and hit the batters on gloves.
“You expect the same when your bowlers are bowling. Just felt like the ball seemed to have misbehaved a little more for them and could be because of height. It is because on an ‘up and down’ (variable bounce) wicket, it can happen because of that extra height, tends to make little difference. Obviously, it did not misbehave as much as it did for them.”
Mohammed Siraj’s Hamstring Injury
Another fact that went against India was the hamstring injury that Mohammad Siraj picked up during the first innings of this Test match. Siraj pulled out in the sixth ball of the 17th over of the South African first innings and called for the physios immediately. Although he came back to bowl later on but was far from his best. “Siraj is starting to feel better each day. A couple of days' break might really help him,” KL Rahul said when asked about the extent of Siraj’s injury.