It’s just the beginning — of reality, bench strength, go-to guys (in times of trouble) and more. Till last summer, the Indian cricket team, stuck to its cushion — within the sub-continent — knew it possessed the weapons to cause a surprise. But, somewhere down the line, it took the arsenal — batting — for granted.

India lost the second Test to South Africa, thus losing the series 2-0, with one Test remaining, at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.

Since the 1990s, India complained of not having genuine fast bowlers, but today, there is a deluge. To an extent, it seems that to harness the speedsters, the main asset lost its polish.

Sri Lanka was called in a couple of months before, when the team decided to replicate conditions similar to that of South Africa. Suranga Lakmal had fun on the turf, so did Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But how did that help the batters? The resume of the top order flaunts overseas experience; almost all of them, except Hardik Pandya, were a part of the last tour.

Renowned commentator Harsha Bhogle once said, “Like an author, a cricketer signs his name on every innings he bats or bowls in; indeed for every cricket ball that challenges him on the field.”

Every individual in the squad is responsible for losses at Cape Town (by 72 runs) and Centurion (135 runs). The numbers will remain by their side. Forever. But cancelling the warm-up match and expecting a unit to open up in alien conditions within a week looked like the first nail in the coffin.

Before the series, India skipper Virat Kohli said, “We need to be realistic with what we are doing and that’s the only way we will be staying in the present and execute the things we want to. We are going there to just play cricket and it does not matter whether we are in South Africa, Australia, England or India.”

But it matters. It clearly does. The loss hurts and players like Ajinkya Rahane, who averages 53.44 overseas, warming the bench hurts further.

We seem to be living in the world of instincts, which suits the game while on the field; not before a match is played, especially in away conditions. That day, India had decided to train instead.

Had it opted for the match, the Pujaras and Rahuls would have attained a pre-series boost — also a better chance to judge the quality of wickets.

Back to Rahane, his exclusion was a suicidal step by the Team India management. Rohit Sharma is no doubt class. But time and again, his bat nodded that it performs naturally in limited-over games than Tests. Still, if at all he is picked, playing an opener in No 5 is a tricky decision.

But skipper Kohli believes a decision once taken needs to be backed. “I am saying the loss obviously hurts but you make one decision and you got to back it. Didn't we lose in India when we had the best 11 there?

Whoever is picked should be good enough to do the job for the team. That is why we have got such a big squad. They are good enough to be at this level but you need to do that collectively as a team. You can't pinpoint and say which is the best 11,” Kohli argued in the post match conference.

What irked the skipper is the game slipping away from handsome positions. “Because you work so hard, you prepare for a match, you get into good situations, shift the game towards you, and then the momentum shifts because of these mistakes. We have repeated these mistakes,” he added, saying how the cricketers need to be tough on themselves.

“Are we giving 120 per cent? As a team we are definitely going to lay out these things in the open. We will ask the guys to be honest about what they were feeling at particular stages in the game, sit down and discuss as a team,” he reasoned.

But then, being aggressive and showing aggression are two different things. One can't lose the temper game now.