South Africa needed to show the same application they did in the final Test against India earlier in the series.
SuperSport analysts Kepler Wessels, Eric Simons and Neil McKenzie had their say on the fourth Test in New Delhi and the series as a whole.
On India’s win
Wessels: ‘I think it’s fair to say this victory will mean more to India than the previous two because they came under a lot of pressure due to the pitches that were prepared. They felt they didn’t deserve enough credit for the way they played. Under these conditions, on this surface, it was a normal Test surface that we are used to in India so they had to work hard for the win. There’s nothing more rewarding than finishing a Test match in the last session. India will definitely take a lot of pride in this victory and it will be the most satisfying win for them of the series.’
On South Africa’s resistance
McKenzie: ‘South Africa won’t be proud of the result, they will be proud of the fight that they have shown. The tail-enders couldn’t deal with the reverse swing at pace. I thought batsmen 1-7 showed good fight by facing quite a few balls, barring JP [Duminy]. It was a very tough tour, but it’s how they learn from this tour. Your young guys like Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar and Dane Vilas have to take from this tour and move forward and show the character of this side. That is what they can take out of this series.’
On Hashim Amla
McKenzie: ‘I feel sorry for England. There is no way a champion batsman like that stays quiet. You normally see it going better in the next tour or the next innings. It was tough batting in India. I know the man. If he gets in he’s going to cash in and that is why I’m feeling sorry for England.’
Wessels: ‘Very happy he is back at No 3. I think it’s a good move, that is where he belongs and where he has had all his success.’
On the margins of defeat
Simons: ‘I think it’s probably fair to say there are some alarm bells going off after this series considering that South Africa are the No 1-ranked team in the world. This is the time when the management team or coaching team earn their money, when the team have gone through this kind of tour. There is some questions that they need to answer.’
On why the SA batsmen didn’t do better earlier in the series
Wessels: ‘I think during the Mohali Test total panic set in from a batting perspective. I think the skill set that was displayed in Mohali and later in Nagpur under those conditions went out the window because, some of these guys are good players we know that, but I think clarity of thought disappeared and panic set in. That was not a good basis to work from. The way we batted in the second innings here, I’m not saying we would have won the series, we probably wouldn’t have, but we would have competed a lot better if the same game plans were followed during those matches, that was followed during this match.
‘If you reflect on it, that was the disappointing part – once that turning ball appeared in the in the very first Test match, I think it was panic stations and it never really recovered.’
Simons: ‘A lot of South Africa’s players didn’t have prior experience of Test cricket in India before this series. It was basically Amla, AB and JP. But a lot of the guys were playing their first Test in India. Then you throw in the conditions which were very, very difficult, there’s no justification but you can start to understanding how do they get themselves out of a hole.
‘The key thing was that in years gone by, that solid line-up would have still battled, but they would have been able to help each other out a bit. This time, every one of them was fighting his own demon and it was difficult for them to help each other get momentum out of what was a very tough situation.’
On the impact of the T20 and ODI series
Wessels: ‘The realisation of what was coming after India lost the T20 and ODI series wasn’t there. Preparing the kind of pitches we saw in this series is India’s go-to strategy when they have to win. If you look at the history, whoever they play, when they’re in trouble, that is what they do. When I went to Mohali I said it’s a given: We are going to have a situation where the ball is going to turn from ball one.
‘Until India win and until the series is put to bed, that is what we are going to face. So possibly, we didn’t expect the amount of turn and when it happened it was such a shock to the system that we never recovered. But it was always going to happen after South Africa won the T20 and ODI series.’