Five lessons from the washed out second Test between India and South Africa, which ended in a draw on Wednesday.
Dodged a bullet
Let’s be honest, after only one day South Africa were facing an upward battle to stay in the game and, indeed, the series. They got out of jail in Bengaluru with India on 80-0 and the Proteas not knowing where their first wicket was going to come from. With the third Test only starting in a week, they will have plenty of time to regroup and work on their batting against spin. There was virtually no improvement in the batting department between the first and second Test and that should be of concern to the coaching staff.
Tahir suffers due to poor batting
One of the side-effects of South Africa’s poor batting displays in the series is the way it has forced Hashim Amla to use Imran Tahir. The leg-spinner is an attacking bowler by nature, which means he’ll more often than not go for a few runs, but he will also take some wickets. With the Proteas managing to score more than 200 (214) for the first time in the second Test, they haven’t had a lot of runs to play with which may have caused Amla to be more conservative in how he uses Tahir. Amla should be tempted to gamble with Tahir and give him a bowl earlier in the innings, but his batsmen must do their part first and put enough runs on the board.
Amla, Faf a concern
Maybe South Africa aren’t as good against spin as they think they are. Historically they have done well but this is not the same team of a few years ago. The batting order have been their own biggest enemy and that will frustrate the players and management alike. The biggest concern is the form of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis. South Africa will continue to struggle in the series if their No 3 and No 4 batsmen fail to score runs. Both will be low on confidence and the fact that the openers haven’t really come to the party yet has contributed to the problem. Too many of South Africa’s key players have been out of form or injured and that always makes it difficult to compete.
Reshuffle batting order
Changing the batting order is something the coaching staff and Amla should consider for the final two Tests. Amla back at three and Faf at five with De Villiers at No 4 is something worth pondering and won’t be foreign territory for the batsmen. Amla has batted at three for most of his career while De Villiers, as the best batsman in the world, should come in at four.
Walk the walk
South Africa haven’t looked like the No 1 ranked Test team in the world on this tour at all. Mentally they seem unsure of themselves while the disruptions in the bowling department haven’t helped either. They don’t look like a team who haven’t lost a series away from home in nine years. The Proteas seem to be lacking a Graeme Smith-type personality in the dressing room and too much responsibility is being put on De Villiers’ shoulders. The load is not being evenly distributed at the moment and that will have to change before things get better.