What hurts Team India the most in the SA series

The Indian team have failed to defend their goals in the two games against South Africa so far

Photo: AP

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Indian team have lost both games to South Africa in the current five-game series
  • Spin bowling, the captaincy of Rishabh Pant among many other aspects have come under the scanner
  • South Africa lead the series 2-0 and one more win will be enough for them to seal the series

With in-form players coming from the Indian Premier League (IPL) and some youngsters on show, the series against South Africa promised to be an exciting competition, however, expectations fell flat as the Indian team lost the first two of five-game series.

The hosts received a major blow on the eve of the opener in Delhi in the form of series skipper KL Rahul who was ruled out of action with a groin injury. Not just Rahul, left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav will also sit out the series after his hand was injured while hitting the net.

Despite these notable failures, India had some quality players who could give the South Africans a hard time. However, it didn’t go according to plan at all for the hosts as they failed to defend the targets in both games. As the series hangs in the balance for the team led by Rishabh Pant, here’s a look at what’s hurting the Indian team the most in the ongoing series:

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1. Bowling problems

The most apparent issue was the lack of spinner control in the middle overs. While the tweakers scored 66 runs in 6.1 overs in the first game in Delhi, in the second game the save rate rose to 13.60 as the duo of Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal n managed just five overs and lost 68 runs overall.

Either the bowlers are bowling too full or too short. With small pitches and considering how well Proteas’ hitters have improved against spin, lengths didn’t help Chahal and Axar Patel. The South African batters also deserve credit for their clean and smart game plan against the Indian bowlers.

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2. Intermediate Order Executor, or lack thereof

Shreyas Iyer downplayed the threat of Tabraiz Shamsi in both games, however, the Mumbai hitter struggled against fast bowlers. Rishabh Pant’s high risk, high reward play didn’t pay off and players like Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik finished well, but who cares about the middleman? India sorely miss Suryakumar Yadav more than anyone in the squad as he can take down any bowler and keep the pace down the middle. While Ishan Kishan stood out in both games, Ruturaj Gaikwad’s form is also a concern for the Men in Blue.

3. Bowling changes, questionable batting order – Pant captaincy leaves a lot to be desired

The two months of the IPL for Delhi Capitals showed that Pant the skipper starts to feel the pressure too early and easily and this was reflected in his decision making and therefore in the results for India as well. Whether it’s a few bowling changes or the questionable decision to send Axar Patel over Dinesh Karthik, Pant hasn’t been at his best with his tactics and the 24-year-old will need to step up the streak stakes.

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