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Is there an end to India's continual starting problems?

India once again find themselves on the backfoot in an overseas tour.

Feature 09 Jan 2018, 01:28 IST

Can Kohli
Can Kohli and his men bounce back?

So, we have the outcome of India's first real overseas Test challenge in the recent times. A 72-run loss to South Africa in Cape Town is how Virat Kohli's men began their long abroad adventure which will see them playing two more Tests in South Africa, five in England and three or maybe four in Australia before the year closes.

The result may have gone in the hosts' favour but India did have their moments in the game.

Heading into Centurion, they can take real confidence from the performance of the fast bowlers, but batting failures in both innings are what they must address in the lead-up to the game and ensure they put in a better showing at Supersport Park, come Saturday.

The loss, however, is an add-on to a list which should amuse neither the team not it's large fan base.

Since 2000, India have played 100 Test matches overseas, winning 32 and losing 38.

A more disturbing trend in those 38 defeats is that India have lost the opening Test of an overseas series on 12 occasions, which has meant that for the remainder of the tour, they have played catch-up to their opposition.

India have been often labelled 'poor travellers'. Judging by the above numbers, it won't be wrong to tout them as 'poor overseas starters', either.

It is a trend that Kohli and his men must curb as they continue on their overseas sojourn. In the recent past, they have shown a tendency to bounce back against mediocre oppositions, but the likes of Australia, South Africa have the tendency to carry the existing winning momentum and motor along for the rest of the series and often complete a clean swipe.

The present team opted not to have a scheduled practice match, ahead of the opening Test in Cape Town and while perhaps the team management was right in trying to conduct their own form of preparations, one must wonder what harm it might have done to have played the game and gotten some runs under their belt.

Another reason that can be pointed to the poor start is that India are playing the Tests first on this tour before moving to the limited-overs series and so are literally under the hammer from the word go, rather than easing themselves into the tour.

Those discussions though do not serve any purpose anymore.

Ahead of the second Test, starting in Centurion on Saturday, India have some work to do, if they are to keep their dream of winning their maiden Test series in South Africa alive.

They can, for starters, take solace from the past. In 2010, they were blown away in the opening Test of that series at the same venue but bounced back magnificently to win the second Test at Durban.

For an encore to happen, the batsmen have to complement the bowlers and ensure that their side remains in the game for longer periods than the hosts.

The bowling performance has given a lot of fans big reason to stay optimistic about for the rest of the series, but it is now time for all departments to click or the wait for the elusive win could only get stretched further.

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