India captain Rohit Sharma defended his batters after a crushing innings and 32 runs defeat to South Africa in the first Test in Centurion on Thursday. Trailing South Africa at the end of the first innings by 163 runs, India were bowled out for 131 in the second innings, despite Virat Kohli’s 76. While Kohli held the fort in the second innings, KL Rahul had scored a century in the first innings. As rest of the Indian batters failed to perform at the SuperSport Park, Rohit, who registered 5 and 0 runs in the match, played down the talk of his players not knowing how to bat on overseas tracks.

Rohit highlighted India’s recent performances against Australia and England, saying that the players have done exceptionally well in both departments in the past few years.

“Yes, we had a performance like this here. But, don’t forget, what we did in Australia and England. In Australia, we won the series, there our batters stepped up. In England, we drew a series, we shone with both bat and ball,” Rohit said after the match.

Rohit further emphasised that the defeat was more about South Africa being the better side throughout the duration of the match.

“These type of performances happen. It’s not that we don’t know how to bat outside India. At times, oppositions playbetter than us and win matches. I think that’s what happened here. It’s not like the opposition batted 110 overs and we didn’t bat as many putting together both innings. In the last 4 tours outside India, go and see our records (batting numbers),” he added.

India’s dream of winning a Test series in South Africa for the first time was ended inside three days.

Dean Elgar scored 185 in his last Test at his home ground as South Africa piled up 405 runs in the first innings.

With India trailing by 163, Kohli hit an aggressive 76 for the visitors before he was last man out but the rest of the batting collapsed against South Africa’s fast bowlers on a lively pitch.

The second innings lasted just 34.1 overs. Kohli hit 12 fours and a six in an 82-ball innings. Shubman Gill made 26 but no other batsman scored more than six.

Kagiso Rabada, who took five for 59 in the first innings, took two for 32 and finished the match with an outstanding diving catch at long-on to dismiss Kohli off Marco Jansen, who took three for 36.

Left-arm fast bowler Nandre Burger completed an impressive debut Test by taking four for 33, giving him match figures of seven for 83.

(With AFP Inputs)

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