The South African team proved to be too hot to handle for MS Dhoni and his troops ever since they arrived in India. After winning the T20 series 2-0, the AB de Villiers-led ODI team scripted a 3-2 in the ODI series.
While nothing seems to be working for the Indian team at the moment, here are five reasons why they struggled right throughout the series:
Bhuvneshwar's deteriorating swing: One of the major concerns for India of late has been the pacer's inability to get India early breakthroughs. When he made his debut for India, he made an immediate impact as he swung the ball both ways. However, experts believe that in order to bowl quicker, Bhuvneshwar's has lost his control over swing. Undoubtedly, there has been an improvement in his pace, but the team needs him to get his swing back, even if that comes at the cost of reducing the pace. The final ODI was a forgettable one for the 25-year-old, where he conceded 106 runs from 10 overs.
Performance in series: 7 wickets from 5 matches
Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina's form: Dhawan has a terrific record in India in all forms of cricket. He might not be the most formidable Indian batsman overseas, but time and again, Dhawan has cemented his place in the squad with consistent performances on Indian soil. However, the ODI series against South Africa was nothing less than a nightmare for him as he failed to provide India solid starts at the top of the order.
Performance in series: 126 runs from 5 matches with one fifty
On the other hand, Raina too, was a huge disappointment in the series. Expected to be India's new finisher considering MS Dhoni's poor form of late, the left-hander scored just one fifty in the series and was dismissed twice on a duck. Raina failed to provide the much-needed impetus in the middle-order, something which hurt India badly.
Performance in series: 68 runs from 5 matches with one fifty
MS Dhoni's fading midas touch: Earlier this year, India lost an ODI series against Bangladesh (1-2) followed by two more series losses against South Africa in T20s and ODI series. The only ODI series India won this year was against Zimbabwe, under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane.
While MS Dhoni did silence his critics with a gutsy 92-run knock in the 2nd ODI, his struggle at the crease is there for all to see and even his captaincy is under the scanner after India have lost three consecutive series under his leadership.
Performance in series: 212 runs from 5 matches with one fifty
Lack of a genuine all-rounder: One of the major concerns for the Indian cricket team is the lack of a quality all-rounder at their disposal. They do have an option in Stuart Binny, but the team management has failed to back him consistently and the Karnataka player too, hasn't made the best of the chances which have come his way. Dhoni tries to get the all-rounder's role done by Axar Patel and Suresh Raina, but none of them has managed to strengthen their cases for being India's proper all-rounders.
Poor fielding: India, who had the momentum going into the final ODI after winning the fourth match to level series, let it slip through poor fielding in the final ODI. Mohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane dropped easy catches of Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, who went on to pummel the bowlers and score centuries for a winning cause. Even though the fielding was not this bad in the entire series, the dropped chances in the decider proved to be too costly for India.