It boils down to a mental focus on the decisive if Kohli’s men want to succeed in unfamiliar territory.
The trick is in the mind. The decider in Newlands here will be one of the biggest matches for India in its testing history.
A victory here and they will achieve what no other Indian team has achieved. Win a Test Series in South Africa.
Can India conquer the Last Frontier?
The pressure on the Indian team, with the 1-1 series, will be immense. This is indeed an opportunity to tick a big box.
But then, the Indians would do well to shake off the Final Frontier element and treat the decisive one, starting on January 11, like any other test match.
So they can play with greater freedom in this city of sun and sea.
That said, the Indians’ obsession with taller pacemakers, and citing this as one reason their closers got less support from the field in the second Test at the Wanderers, is nothing more than a cleverly camouflaged excuse.
If height was indeed a factor, then how did Shardul Thakur, the shortest of the Indian pacemakers alongside Mohammed Shami, cut through the South African lineup in the first innings, starting seven?
And no Protea bowler, whatever his height, scored a seven on the Test, or cast a more destructive spell.
Forget about height. It’s all about the areas you play in. If Indian pacemakers, regardless of their height, had consistently hit the cracks, as Shardul did in South Africa’s first innings, India would have won.
And the grounds had dried out considerably when testing was resumed on the fourth day. In any case, the ball was cleaned and dried before each throw with a towel.
If the ball was really slippery, how did the Indian pacemakers manage to hit the South African batters so many times to the body? Can you do this with a slippery ball?
Logic and common sense go overboard when you look for excuses for a loss from a winning position.
In any case, the past is past, and looking to the future, concentrating on the decisive match in Newlands, India needs to choose a replacement for Mohammed Siraj.
A hamstring injury, particularly for a pacemaker, can reappear and India will surely not risk Siraj in the decider.
So it all comes down to choosing between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
Ishant is losing his pace, he’s not getting any younger, and he hasn’t been in his best shape lately.
However, when he finds his groove, he can still throw a convincing bouncing line off the stump.
And following the current line of thinking from India, which wants higher pacemakers, Ishant could get the nod.
That being said, Umesh has done nothing wrong in the opportunities that have been provided to him. He is the most versatile pacemaker, has an excellent swinger, can return the ball, and is decidedly faster than Ishant.
Indeed, when given a rare opportunity, against England in the Oval last year, Umesh, pitching with fire, flayed three batters in every inning, playing a key role in the Indian victory.
He opened the Test for India with the lands of Joe Root and Dawid Malan.
But then, Umesh is likely to be left out again.
"खाना विशेषज्ञ। जोम्बी प्रेमी। अति कफी अधिवक्ता। बियर ट्रेलब्लाजर। अप्रिय यात्रा फ्यान।"