India have never won a test series in South Africa. They have won just one test. Yet going into the series many including me that this was India's best chance to beat South Africa. After all, we were the No. 1 test team in the world and were riding high after two comprehensive series wins over Australia and New Zealand on Indian soil. Their squad was looking squad strong and there was real expectations as India headed into the series.
But all the positive talk has come to an abrupt end as India crashed to truly disappointing loss to South Africa in the first test at Centurion. India were thrashed by South Africa by an innings and 25 runs. A truly poor showing. South Africa once again exposed India's weakness on bouncy tracks and their inability to deal with short pitched deliveries.
The loss against South Africa has once again raised the question of whether India can beat the Proteas in their own backyard. They looked woefully out of depth in the first innings. Their bowling was ineffective and lacked sharpness of any kind. You could argue that Zaheer Khan was out, but the No. 1 test side in the world has to deal with injuries and cope up with it.
India's batting was abysmal in the first innings. They were bundled out for a mere 136 in the first innings and three batsmen were out for a duck. In the second innings they put in a much better effect, but despite getting off to a great start they were bowled out for 456.
What was really worrying was the bowling. All India managed was four wickets. One could not help but feel that the South African batsmen were toying with India's bowling lineup with Kallis smashing his first double ton and De Villers scoring a century in just one session!
Once again I got the feeling that Raina desperately needed a break. He once again put in a poor performance and I think its time for the lad to take a break and come back into the game with full vigour. His weakness against the short ball once again exposed.
He is highly talented cricketer and has a great future ahead of him, so it's essential for him to gather his thoughts and recapture the form that made him such a hit if he is to ever fulfill his potential.
But all is not lost. India do have a few positives to take out of the match.
Tendulkar got his 50th test ton and Dhoni batted really well, mixing aggression with composure. Tendulkar's effort was yet another masterpiece and he and Dhoni put in a good fight towards the end. One could also say that India were a bit unfortunate in the first innings.
After all they had to bat in good bowling conditions and by the time, the South Africans came to bat the conditions had improved tremendously. India also never got the chance to play a practice match.
If India are to win the next match, they need certain things to work. They will need a firing Harbhajan Singh and will also require Sehwag and Gambhir to lay a strong foundation.
For Dhoni and his boys this match was a wake up call. They need to get their act together, sort out the problems and look to win the next match. India will have to play with a lot of heart ,passion and will have to get accustomed to the surface if they are to stand a chance in beating South Africa.
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