When the Newlands faithful began to filter into the ground on the morning of January 5 for the first of three tests between South Africa and India, it brought to an end a 760-day wait for revenge. South Africa were soundly beaten by India away from home at the end of 2015 under dubious circumstances, with the pitches in India generally thought not to be up to the standard expected in international cricket. The ICC went as far as stepping in by deeming the Nagpur pitch poor.

The sun baked down and with a backdrop of Table Mountain and Devils Peak, this was to be the setting where India was to face their demons with the Proteas intent on delivering the most hostile of chin music. Instead, it was India who got the better of early proceedings when the Proteas were 11-3 but the South Africans rallied on what was a lively Newlands pitch to get to 286 before the end of the day’s play.

India were going to have to front up to the South African quicks in the fading light of a Cape Town early evening. Three Indian wickets fell before the end of the days play and matters were only going to get worse for the tourists when they found themselves 92/7 on the second day after the Proteas’ speedsters cut through the top and middle order like a knife through the warmest of butter. India’s tail wagged thanks to some heroics from Hardik Pandya but eventually fell 77 runs short of South Africa’s modest first innings total.

It didn’t get any easier for the Indian batsman after their bowlers had done superbly to restrict South Africa to only 130 in their second innings meaning victory was in sight with only 208 runs needed to go one-nil up in the series. In the blink of an eye, the Indian top order had crumbled on the green Newlands wicket to find themselves at 82/7 at tea, and for the second time in the game, had been seven wickets down for under 100 runs. The Proteas were to win by 72 runs by defending the lowest fourth innings total in South Africa since 1998.

After implosion with bat in hand, India are on the ropes early doors in a series they are now backed at 12/1 to win in the latest cricket betting. If they are to put up any resistance against the formidable pace trio of Rabada, Morkel, and Philander then they will have to show more bravery than ever before on the emerald pitches in South Africa.

India’s history on surfaces that offer more for the quicker bowlers is less than impressive and since 2007 they haven’t won any test series away from home that has been played in South Africa, Australia or England.

If the Indian team want to begin dispelling the claim that they are flat-track bullies then there’s no better place to begin then the next two tests at Centurion and the Wanderers. The curators would have prepared wickets that will take Kohli and his men out from their comfort zones and into an intense battle between bat and ball. The chance is there for Ravi Shastri’s men to show they are more than just one-trick ponies.