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India's Test series win on South African soil: So near, yet so far

India has failed to defeat South Africa for the Freedom Trophy in the African nation. It was considered India's best chance in 29 years. But, what did exactly go wrong?

India vs South Africa, IND vs SA, Freedom Series 2021-22: Indias Test series win on South African soil: So near, yet so far-ayh
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Cape Town, First Published Jan 15, 2022, 11:59 AM IST
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It was considered the final frontier for India in its bid to win its first-ever Test series in South Africa. However, things did not go according to the plans for the visitors, as Virat Kohli and co's 29-year long wait is set to continue. With the series being promoted as India's golden chance to quench its third for the first, having been inspired by their twin straight wins in Australia, things seemed far from materialising in South Africa.

India does happen to be a significant powerhouse in world cricket currently, especially in terms of cricketing quality, having finished as the runner-up in the ICC World Test Championship last year. Also, following a stellar show in Australia and England, India's hopes to get the job done in South Africa were quashed. The visitors failed to exploit South Africa's lack of big names. So, what exactly went wrong with the Indians. Below, we analyse:

A compromised show with the bat
The ultimate reason for India's downfall in the series was its batting. Given its star-studded line-up, unlike South Africa's, there were hardly any doubters who, for once, thought that India would quaver this time. The likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant were among the highly-rated batters to make the runs galore. Although Rahul and Mayank clicked in the opening Test, things went haywire in the subsequent two Tests.

Meanwhile, the patchy form of Pujara and abysmal batting by Rahane hurt the side throughout the series. At the same time, Kohli took an unorthodox approach to become over defensive and extend his stay on the crease to aid the incoming batters, which is undoubtedly not his gameplay, given how he has presented himself over the years. While Pant was decent in the latter stages, he was reckless initially, and it's about time that he shows some maturity.

ALSO READ: India vs South Africa 2021-22, Cape Town Test - Virat Kohli and co warned over DRS outburst

Catches win you matches
In terms of fielding, the Indians were somewhat unstable. A few chances went begging, with the Indians dropping as many as nine chances throughout the series. Although the South Africans dropped as many, they did manage to capitalise on it via other means. Also, some catches fell short of the Indians, as a few fielding tactics did not go the visitors' way. The Indians were standing far too behind at the slips, which led to more edges falling short. Standing somewhat closer, with a helmet on, could have given them more chances of latching on to the flying edges.

India vs South Africa, IND vs SA, Freedom Series 2021-22: Indias Test series win on South African soil: So near, yet so far-ayh

No real complaints about the bowlers
The Indian bowlers were far better compared to the batters. There are no real complaints regarding the bowling department. Although veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin failed to create much of an impact, given the conditions, he was expected not to be. As for the pacers and seamers, they did an admirable job to give a hard time to the South African batters, keeping the hosts, the fans and the series itself on their toes. If you wonder why the bowlers could not get the job done if they bowled so well, read on!

ALSO READ: India vs South Africa 2021-22, Cape Town Test - Kohli rues batting collapse as prime reason for series defeat

No credit to be taken away from the Proteas
Lastly, we need to give credit where it's due. And, the South Africans deserve it wholeheartedly. Lack of enough experienced players was one of the prime reasons being touted if the Proteas failed to win this one. However, as it's famously said that talent overshadows experience, it was precisely the case for the hosts this term.

The defeat in the opening Test was a tough pill to swallow for the Proteas, while Quinton de Kock's sudden retirement worsened things. Also, with their absolute pace sensation Anrich Norje missing out, it was indeed Mission Impossible for the hosts. Moreover, they were coming off a long period without Test cricket, while the Indians were in full flow in the format, coming off a win over New Zealand at home.

The young South African talents were determined not to make it easy for the Indians. The likes of Keegan Petersen, skipper Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma made the Indians toil hard. Also, with the ball, pacers Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada exploited India's fribble batting order to push it onto the backfoot and prove that talent is superior to experience, despite no big names. Furthermore, the visitors proved yet again that winning in South Africa is no walk in the park.

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