India arrived in South Africa in a bid to rewrite history books by registering their 1st ever series win in Test and ODIS in South Africa. Batting collapses in the 4th innings in Cape Town and Centurion meant that the Test series was decided with one match to go. Optimism turned into the usual disappointment that the Indian team experienced in the past few years on overseas tours. Then what followed in Johannesburg was something that separated this team from their predecessors. Their passion and hunger to win proved too much for the home side on a dangerous pitch as India registered a historic win albeit in a dead rubber. From there, the momentum completely shifted as India wrapped up the ODI series by demolishing Proteas 5-1.
Let’s have a look at the positives that the team gained from this tour:
●Virat Kohli cementing status of the premier batsman of the World: Highest run scorer in Tests (286 runs) and in ODIS (558) from each side, Virat Kohli showed why he is worth the attention that he gets from everywhere. After a failure in the Cape Town Test, Virat roared back into form by scoring a chance less 153 in Centurion. 54 and 41 in Johannesburg gave a timely reminder to his critics that he can score runs even on toughest tracks.
In ODIS, he was just unstoppable. 3 hundreds at an average of over 180 meant that India put up a strong total in almost every game which eventually proved to be the difference between the two teams. India owe a lot to their captain for a good show in the series. Given his hunger for runs, we can expect the Delhi lad to carry on with his record breaking performances.
●Bhuvneshwar Kumar- Mr.Dependable
Bhuvneshwar Kumar shone with both bat and ball versus the South Africans. He was penetrative with the new ball in both the Tests that he played. He picked up 10 wickets at an average of 20.30.With the bat, he made crucial runs and averaged 33.66 in a series that was a nightmare for batsmen. With the tour of England up next, Kumar has emerged as the leader of the pack.
●The spin twins: Statistically, no spin duo has ever troubled the South Africans in an ODI series at home as much as the The ‘KulCha’ did. Both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal bamboozled the home side with their guile and variations. Kuldeep scalped 17 wickets at an average of 13.88 while Chahal wasn’t too far behind, picking 16 wickets at an average of 16.37. They ensured that SA never got the momentum in the middle overs with wickets falling at regular intervals. The below par performances of Ashwin and Jadeja in last few years in ODIS was one of the reasons why India struggled away from home. Now with two attacking wrist spinners in their ranks, scoring in the middle overs won’t be easy against the Indian side.
●Jasprit Bumrah-The Test bowler : When the team for the SA tour was announced, many believed Bumrah’s selection was a gamble. Having impressed in limited overs cricket in last 12 months, Bumrah had the faith of the captain and the coach. He hadn’t played a First class match for more than a year. To everyone’s surprise, Bumrah made it to the team XI over the more experienced pacer, Umesh Yadav, for the Cape Town test. He took a while to get his length right in the first spell but made up for it in the 2nd innings by picking up 3 wickets as India dismissed SA for 135. Bumrah finished with 14 wickets to his name including a 5fer in the Johannesburg win. His pace and accuracy settled all the doubts regarding his ability as a Test bowler.
●Team spirit: This tour was tipped to be India’s toughest assignment since the 2014 England tour. After losing the first two Tests, many were expecting another Indian surrender away from home, a sight that was pretty common in the 2011 England tour,2011-12 Australian tour and in 2014 England tour( India lost 11 Tests out of 13,winning one and drawing the other on these tours) but the Virat Kohli led side were not going down easily .They humbled SA in Johannesburg Test and followed it up with a convincing series win in ODIS and in T20Is.This fighting spirit separates great sides from good one. The fans will hope that the same team spirit will be on display in the future too.