India prevailed over the South Africans in a close Twenty20 (T20) series, following a near-clean sweep in One Day Internationals (ODI), to finish their tour of South Africa on a high. Had they won the Test series as well – on the edge stuff – this would have turned out to be by far the best overseas performance ever by an Indian team.The bowlers were exceptional and had the batting come good in the first two Tests, the scoreline could well have read 2-1 in India’s favour instead of the other way round.
However, Virat Kohli still got a chance, second year running, to lay hands on the ICC Test Championship Mace. India, following their win in the third Test against Faf du Plessis and co in Johannesburg were able to deny other teams a chance to topple them at the top of the Test rankings.
Kohli’s decisions came under a lot of scrutiny in the Test series when some key players were dropped and the team ended up losing the first two Tests. His decisions raised a lot of questions as he had done what most skippers hadn’t done before, but since the third Test, things changed incredibly for the side which seemed to have hit a purple patch. By the end of the tour, he had achieved what other Indian skippers hadn’t before. In the recently concluded ODI series, Kohli ended as the highest run-getter (558), the highest-ever in a bilateral series.
If Kohli was supreme, Chahal and Kuldeep were mesmerising with their mixed bag of tricks. It is almost a sin to not mention them in the same breath as both were equally impressive, bamboozling Proteas batsmen with flight, turn, googlies and a slew of other variations. The young South African batting line-up looked absolutely clueless. Not to take away any credit from the Indians but the Proteas dearly missed the services of their star players like AB deVillers, Faf Du Plessis and Quinton De Kock being out due to injuries.
The spinners might have won the ODI series for India, but cannot be expected to do the same in Test matches in England in a few months’ time. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and possibly Umesh Yadav ( if he makes a comeback) will have to adapt to English conditions quick and fast.
Also, excessive dependence on Virat Kohli can prove to be India’s undoing in the future, with no other batsmen performing consistently in overseas conditions. The likes of Murali Vijay, Pujara and Rahane will also have to deliver on a consistent basis. Once compared to the legendary Kapil Dev, Hardik Pandya hasn’t offered much in this series and will have to come good with the ball in the English seaming conditions to justify his spot atleast in the Test Side.
A few shortcomings apart, the Indian cricket team have rewritten history in the true sense of the term which will hopefully make the world reconsider their rather skeptical view of India’s recent superiority in the world of cricket. There is nothing and absolutely nothing that this group of men cannot acheive.