Johannesburg was terrific, but there are lessons for India to learn

Cullinan: 'India's batsmen were neither back or forward' (7:42)

Daryll Cullinan dissects India's batting performance in the Test series in South Africa, and explains why most of the batsmen struggled (7:42)

Who told India they could walk down the wicket to Kagiso Rabada on a pitch that at one time was considered dangerous for the safety of the batsmen? Who told Cheteshwar Pujara he could bat for 53 balls without scoring his first run and still not feel anxious on a pitch where any ball could have your name on it? What does Virat Kohli think of himself, batting first and then driving balls on the up and away from the body because on this pitch you can't always wait for the bad ball? What about Ajinkya Rahane, getting hit on his bare elbow and waving away assistance, not wanting to show he is hurt, not least because this pitch could be rated unfit for play if batsmen keep getting hurt often?

And how about the India bowlers hitting South African batsmen relentlessly and causing play to be suspended? Go away. Having last won a Test outside Asia and the West Indies in 2014, where do India get the confidence to not throw in the towel in the face of a 119-run stand in a chase of 241? India spinners do this day in and day out, but fast bowlers, waiting patiently and with discipline for that one breakthrough before they can swoop in again? They left South Africa unhappy with their own groundsmen for providing too much pace and bounce.

The Johannesburg Test showed how much Test cricket means to this side when T20 franchise cricket is increasingly filling the calendar. India's victory came on the day of the IPL auction back home, and the big breakthroughs at Wanderers were provided by a fast bowler, Ishant Sharma, who got no bids and went unsold.

Parthiv Patel might have broken his finger. M Vijay - the good old Vijay now leaving balls outside off and not bothering about being hit - took blows from his thighs to his chest. This pitch could have set careers back by months, but the adrenalin high might not have brought that possibility to mind. That hard ball hurled at 140kph or faster, with no telling how it would behave off the pitch, can cause any kind of damage. India either braved it, or didn't think about it.

All this in a dead rubber. But as Kohli said, it was about more than just one Test. It was about more than hanging on to the No. 1 Test ranking, because the rankings are not always a good indicator of a team's prowess thanks to the lopsided scheduling. It was about the belief in this side ahead of two more big overseas tours this year, and ahead of nine limited-overs internationals in South Africa, in an environment where - perhaps exaggeratedly - they feel the world is against them.

India's courage and hard work, which this win is testament to, was never under doubt. The criticism - amid the euphoria let's not forget it was a series defeat - was for India's short preparation time in South Africa, the selections they made in the first two Tests, the slowness with which they reacted to uncharacteristic batting from their bedrocks, and the refusal to accept their slip-catching technique might be faulty.

Let's not forget all of that combined to cost India the series. It wasn't down to just adrenalin, or giving "120%," that Kohli was much better at leaving balls in the final Test. A big reason was that he had become used to these bouncy pitches. The first three dismissals on the first day of the series, which left India with a difficult catch-up job, were of batsmen unacclimatised to conditions. If this is the biggest series you are playing as a team, you can't let silly scheduling get in the way of preparations. It doesn't matter if the Test specialists have to come early to get acclimatised.

It is well and good to say that you back your decisions and don't pay much heed to hindsight, but one must be practical. It was clearly a mistake to not pick Rahane for the first two Tests, as he proved in Johannesburg, and as he has proved in the past. India needed to identify early that Vijay was playing shots at balls he would previously leave with eyes closed. To be fair to Kohli, he never spoke about the strike rates of Vijay and Pujara, but there is nothing wrong in reinforcing to them that their natural game serves the team best in these conditions.

It was no surprise that India's best batting performance came when they reverted to their successful template: Vijay and Pujara defend and blunt the new ball, Kohli stamps his authority, and Rahane counterattacks when the pressure is on and also bats well with the tail.

India's slip catching has been average for the last four years, but their methods and the coach remain the same. There was no harm in giving a call to, say, Brian McMillan - an expert slip catcher for South Africa in the 1990s - for a training session when you are in Cape Town, even behind closed doors if you don't want media attention.

Jasprit Bumrah was the find of this series, a punt many reacted to with trepidation because of his lack of first-class experience in the last year. However, Bumrah has learnt so quickly that Kohli feels he bowled like someone with experience of 40 Tests and not two, but you wonder if he would have bowled the half-volleys he did on the first morning had he been picked for the Sri Lanka series at home, and had come to South Africa with a few days of first-class bowling in his legs and mind.

Winning away series - for Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand in India, and for India to win in those countries - needs almost everything to go right. Nothing can be left to fate or chance. You hope India will realise how close they could have come to winning in South Africa had they prepared and selected better. You hope they won't be happy with: "we whitewashed you, but you couldn't". The aim must be higher.

India have everything they need to dominate world cricket: richest board, best-paid cricketers, largest human-resource base to choose from, best training facilities, and endless financial and fanatical support. To compete everywhere should be an expectation, not an exception.

Though the euphoria of Johannesburg is well deserved, India should no longer be satisfied with winning a Test overseas. India need to have the ambition to see this series as one of missed opportunities so that they don't miss them again.