The Proteas were second best to India in every way
Pride is the consolation prize for all losing sportsmen, the default currency when there is no trophy left to play for.
On the evidence of the past four days in Pune it will not be nearly enough to prevent a second successive 3-0 drubbing.
After enforcing the follow-on Virat Kohli’s team duly wrapped up the second Test - and the series - by an innings and 137 runs, which is now India’s biggest win over the Proteas.
The record margin rubber-stamped India’s dominance throughout this series, as South Africa’s spinners were exposed by top-class batting.
Equally, their own batting unravelled against top-class spin and seam, and there were far too many fielding errors.
“India have been much better than us in every department,” Proteas captain Faf du Plessis stated emphatically.
It would have helped hugely to at least win a toss, but Kohli had the wood over Du Plessis there too. In fact, Du Plessis has not called correctly ahead of the Proteas’ last nine Tests on the subcontinent.
But if there is a feeling that the lottery of a coin toss may possibly have played a role in the eventual outcome that would indeed be scratching the very pit of an increasingly empty barrel.
South Africa simply cannot match India for class and experience. Du Plessis’ team is still feeling the strain of a string of significant retirements in recent times.
It has ripped the heart out of a team that once saw an away trip as the start of another adventure, and thrived in these hot and steamy climes, where their deeds on foreign soil became the stuff of legend.
“It is purely experience. This Indian team is experienced. There is a lot of Test matches in that dressing room. We have lost most of our Test experience. (AB) de Villiers, (Hashim) Amla, (Morne) Morkel, (Dale) Steyn. All of those guys are senior campaigners. You don’t replace those guys overnight. If you take the best players out of any team they will find the same challengers. We have a new group. It will take time,” Du Plessis said.
“It definitely hurts. We never come here to roll over and die. We are a very proud cricket nation. I am hurting. We also try to focus on getting this team better. There are a lot of young faces in that dressing room.
Hopefully, in a year, young players would have gone through this and got stronger from a character point of view. In Test cricket there is no place to hide.”
The task of avoiding a whitewash in Ranchi later this week has been further compounded with left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj returning home with an injured shoulder and has been replaced by Cape Cobras all-rounder George Linde.@ZaahierAdams