Lungi wraps it up for South Africa

Lungi wraps it up for South Africa

India crash to 135-run defeat to surrender series without a fight

Lungi wraps it up for South Africa

On the most sub-continental of pitches, Virat Kohli and company produced the most un-Indian-like batting display to crash to a humiliating 135-run loss in the second Test and thereby surrender The Freedom Series Trophy that they had held after winning at home in 2015.

India, overnight 35/3 in pursuit of 287 for a  win, were shot out for 151 in 50.2 overs in an extended first session of the final day of the second Test at the SuperSport Park on Wednesday, with paceman Lungi Ngidi capping off South Africa's series win with a five-wicket haul.

Coming as it did on his Test debut and in front of his home crowd, it was a special moment for the young quick. This was India's first defeat in 11 series since Kohli took over as full-time Test captain in 2015. They had won nine of the last 10 series, stretching from their one-off Test against Bangladesh in 2015 in Dhaka.

Had Rohit Sharma (47) played out what could have been a final over before lunch, India could have extended South Africa's wait for victory to the second session but the right-hander's hook off Kagiso Rabada was snapped up by a diving AB de Villiers at fine leg. With only two wickets left, umpires extended the session by 15 minutes and Ngidi grabbed both those scalps for a rich haul of 6/39.          

It was another bright day here but it began on a dull note for the tourists with Cheteshwar Pujara inexplicably getting run out again. In the first innings, too, he had been dismissed in a similar fashion for a first-ball duck while in the second, he fell short of the  crease after attempting a third run. The right-hander couldn't beat de Villiers' throw from deep backward-point as his dive could only take his bat to the line and not beyond it.

Pujara isn't the swiftest of runners between the wickets but even then there was no excuse in not completing that run. On a pitch where the South African bowlers didn't have to try too hard to get breakthroughs in the final innings, gifting them a wicket in the shape of a run out was unacceptable.              

Once Pujara walked back, India lost wickets in a heap again. Parthiv fell to a brilliant diving catch by Morne Morkel at deep backward square-leg off Rabada while Hardik Pandya reached out to a wide, rising delivery by Ngidi to offer a catch behind the wickets. R Ashwin's stay lasted no more than six balls before he edged Ngidi behind to Quinton de Kock. Just when India looked doubtful of reaching even hundred, Rohit and Mohammad Shami (28) put on 54 runs for the eighth wicket to provide some semblance of respect to India's total.

Pujara's dismissal typified India's abject surrender on a pitch where they should have at least come close to winning the match if not win it. While their bowlers earned plaudits, the batsmen, barring Kohli, let themselves down again. Neither did they apply themselves well to the conditions nor did they show any character to stand up to the challenge. Right from the two openers to the lower middle-order, no one batsman showed the skill or the stomach for a  fight. Rohit finally got some runs in a nothing-to-lose situation but apart from enhancing his series average closer to 20 runs an innings from 10, it did precious little. The bowling was relentless no doubt but if you call yourself the No 1 team, as the ranking indeed says, then you ought to prove yourself against the best in the business.