CAPE TOWN – Replacing a host of test-winning performers is proving a hard ask for South Africa who suffered a fourth successive defeat, roundly thumped as India won by an innings and 137 runs on the fourth day in Pune on Sunday to go 2-0 down in the three-test series.
The defeat was the heaviest suffered by a South African team at the hands of India and followed quickly on a comprehensive 203-run victory for the hosts in the opening test at Visakhapatnam last week.
The retirement from the test arena over the last 18 months of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn was always going to leave South Africa stretched in their efforts to build a new team at a most inconvenient time, as the new-look ICC World Test Championship kicked off.
There was already much concern after Sri Lanka won both tests in South Africa in a quick-fire series in February and then Cricket South Africa terminated Ottis Gibson’s tenure as coach after a disappointing World Cup in England and Wales in mid-year.
Any hopes that South Africa might be able to quickly bridge the gap have been blown away in India, where the team have looked largely overawed and outgunned and without much of the tenacity of the past.