India lost the plot during the fourth innings of the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town and with it, lost the Test by 72 runs. On a day in which 18 wickets fell in 64 overs, India was bowled out for 135, chasing 208 for a win.
Vernon Philander took 6/42 in the Indian second innings to make it 9 wickets in the match for him. There were some basic mistakes made by both teams, but the Indian team came out on the losing side due to some very major errors.
Here are 5 main reasons why India lost the first Test match:
1. Dropping Rahane
India made a grave mistake of dropping Ajinkya Rahane and picking Rohit Sharma in his place. Given that Rahane didn’t make too many runs in the recently concluded Sri Lanka Test series and Rohit scored a century; Rahane has a better Test record overseas and is more technically sound than the more flamboyant and risk-taking Rohit Sharma.
Rahane has the chops to grind it out and then counterattack against the best of the fast bowlers, without taking much risk in the middle, something India needed during the chase of 208 runs. He was much suited to the wicket at Newlands and benching him proved fatal for Indian batting.
2. Openers fail to build platform
India went in with the opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay in the first Test. Shikhar Dhawan is naturally aggressive and it proved to be his downfall, as he kept going after the bowling attack when he should have ground it out like Vijay.
Maybe India will bring in the more talented KL Rahul who can grind it out and then counterattack with ease. He has a better technique than Dhawan and knows how to bat on the bouncing pitches, something he showed on his debut in 2014 against Australia.
3. Defensive mindset during the chase
India had too much of a defensive mindset in their chase of 208 runs against Proteas bowling attack. Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Rohit Sharma decided to block and block after Dhawan and Kohli fell going for runs. However, in doing so, they went so deep into their shells, that they fell as soon as a good ball was bowled to them.
They should have balanced the defense and attack and should have gone after the runs with a cautious, yet positive intent.
4. Letting the SA tail wag
One of the biggest reasons South Africa got out of the jail in their first innings was that their tailed wagged enough to give them those 40-50 extra runs in the end. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled brilliantly to remove three top Proteas wickets on the first day of the Test but didn’t get any support from Shami or Bumrah, as the lower order of Maharaj (35) and Rabada (26) scored some important runs down the order. Therefore a total that should have been 200-220 was stretched to 286 and it proved to be a match-winning total for South Africa in the first innings.
5. Virat Kohli weaknesses exposed
When the team is in trouble, everyone looks towards the captain for inspiration and hope. But when the captain himself is struggling, the rest of the team looks in shambles. Virat Kohli’s weakness outside the off stump on pitches with bounce was exposed brilliantly by Morne Morkel, as he had him caught in slips.
Come second innings, Kohli was looking good for his 28, when he was brilliantly set up by Philander with two outswingers and trapped him LBW with the one that straightened and came back to him. Kohli needs to sort out his problems as he is a key batsman for the team and if the captain fails, it demoralizes the whole team.