Former South African batter Daryll Cullinan has opined that India’s win over the Proteas in the 1st Test in Centurion was probably the ‘worst thing that happened’ since it gave the visitors a false sense of security. According to him, the South African bowlers learned their lessons from the defeat while India’s batters were found wanting once the opposition pacers adjusted their lengths.
India got off to a brilliant start in the 1st Test as openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal added 123. However, their batting efforts went from bad to worse as the series progressed.
Reflecting on India’s loss, Cullinan said that India’s batting deficiencies were exposed once South Africa got their act in place. Speaking on ESPN Cricinfo, he said:
“South African bowlers changed their lengths (after the 1st Test) and asked India to play back more. Indian batters they were found wanting. You cannot change that in a Test match. These guys look good at home. They batted well in Australia but with movement and inconsistent bounce, they were found wanting, going back - technically squaring up, playing from the crease. There is a technical issue. No matter how long you've batted, you won’t have a long career if you are playing from the crease.”
Cullinan added that India’s win in Centurion, in hindsight, played a part in their undoing. He explained:
“The worst thing that happened, probably, for India from a batting perspective, was they won the first Test. You almost thought they had arrived. But South Africa came back really well.”
After clinching the first Test, India’s batting line-up crumbled to 202 & 266 in Johannesburg and 223 & 198 in Cape Town.
Admitting that batters let India down, Cullinan also felt that, for a change, their bowlers were not at their best. According to the 54-year-old, the South African pacers were way more consistent in comparison to their Indian counterparts. Cullinan elaborated:
“India’s bowlers were inconsistent. Probably the most consistent was Shami. We saw Bumrah go wicketless (2nd innings at Wanderers) on a pitch where he was expected to bowl well. That’s been the story of all three Test matches - inconsistency.”
The former batter also reckoned that India should have given the experienced Ishant Sharma a chance in the series. He stated:
“I think where India missed the trick is with (not playing) Ishant Sharma. The balance wasn’t quite there. Ashwin, in the end, neither did Maharaj, play a role in the series in any sort of manner, not even holding one end up. India desperately need to have thought about their fourth seamer. India were winning successfully over the last couple of years because of their bowling. Sadly, they just weren’t there this series.”
South Africa crushed India’s hopes of a maiden Test series win in the Rainbow Nation, chasing down 212 with ease in Cape Town. Keegan Petersen starred with 82 as the Proteas got home by seven wickets.