India Create History In South Africa

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Indian batsman and Captain Virat Kohli (L) shakes hand with South African wicket keeper Quinton de Kock (R) after winning the match during the second day of the One Day International (ODI) cricket match between South Africa and India at the Centurion cricket ground on February 4, 2018 in Centurion, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

India Create History In South Africa

A lack of results overseas has plagued the Indian Cricket for a long period of time. Now, when they are scheduled to play the bulk of their cricket overseas, the start to their overseas campaign has been historic. Losing a well-fought Test series, India bounced back to sweep the ODI and T20I series, winning eight out of the twelve matches on tour.

Tests

The tour started with the three-match Test series, with the first one played in Cape Town. Hoping to enact revenge after a humiliating 0-3 defeat in the 2015 series on the spinning tracks in India, South Africa welcomed their guests with fast, seaming wickets.

The South African pace attack ran riot in the first two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, dismissing India for scores of 209, 135, 307 and 151, eventually winning both Tests by 72 runs and 135 runs respectively.

India did not bat like a well-knit unit, only Hardik Pandya and Virat Kohli, 93 and 153 in the First and Second Test respectively, showed grit and fight.

India’s bowlers, often criticised for their performances abroad, used the conditions on offer well. They dismissed the Proteas for 286, 130, 335 and 258. India’s poor catching and questionable shot selection saw them lose both Tests.

The rest of the tour then looked very bleak for the Indians. A 3-0 whitewash looked firmly on the cards and a spicy, fast wicket was again in store at the Wanderers.

India batted first and managed only 187 and the fears only intensified. A spirited bowling performance, dismissing South Africa for 194 and then getting 247 on a pitch behaving like a spitting cobra, meant India came back with more than a shout. Dismissing South Africa for 177 in the final innings, India won the final Test by 63 runs.
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India found a few dependable performers. Skipper Virat Kohli made 286 runs at an average of 47.67 and finished as the series’ highest run-getter. Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma had a very good time with the ball too, picking up 15, 14, 10 and 8 wickets at averages of 17.07, 25.21, 20.30 an 18.75 respectively.

A series defeat brings out the dampeners too. Hardik Pandya, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma had Tests to forget. They managed 119, 102, 100 and 78 runs at averages of 19.83, 17, 16.67 and 19.50 respectively.
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ODIs

After scripting a famous win at the Wanderers, India found their rhythm and their confidence showed in the ODI series. With pitches a little slower and a little dry, it worked brilliantly for India.

South Africa, missing their key players Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, named inexperienced Aiden Markram as the stand-in captain. With AB de Villiers missing the first three games, India hammered home the advantage with their experience. Wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav put on a spin clinic, taking India to a 3-0 lead in the six-game series.

While the spinners wreaked havoc, Virat Kohli went on a record-breaking run. Scoring 558 runs at an average of 186, Kohli made three hundreds in the series and became the highest run scorer in a bilateral-ODI series.

In contrast, the whole South African team managed just one centurion through Faf du Plessis in the opening game, but he missed the rest of the series with a finger injury.

South Africa picked up only 27 wickets out of a possible 60, way less than India’s 53, 33 of them shared between Kuldeep and Chahal. South Africa’s spinners picked up only three wickets.

Shihkar Dhawan amassed 323 runs at an average of 64.60. South Africa’s highest run-getter was Hashim Amla with 154 runs at an average of 25.67. Some of South Africa’s scores made for grim reading. 118, 179, 201 and 204 in four out of the six games looks really poor.

Barring one rain-curtailed game, where South Africa went all guns blazing in a shortened clash, the scoreline of 5-1 was probably appropriate.
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While South Africa did not have De Kock, du Plessis and de Villiers (for the first three games), their bowling lineup failed to create any impact barring new boy Lungi Ngidi who picked up eight wickets at an average of 25.50. Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir all had a series to forget. Five, two, two and one wicket(s) at an average of 48.40, 103, 104.50 and 175 are really hideous numbers.

India really dominated the ODI series in the truest sense.

T20Is

The Indian dominance from the ODIs carried on in the first T20I where India amassed 203/5 and restricted South Africa to 175/9. Shikhar Dhawan carried on his form with a fluent 72 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took a fifer with his new weapon, the Knuckle-Ball, another facet where the Proteas were found wanting.

In the second game, Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni propelled India to 188/4 before a blazing 69 from Heinrich Klaasen and a 64 notout from JP Duminy sealed a stunning run chase.

In the final game, India made 172/7 and then the seamers stifled the chase on a dry wicket, winning by seven runs.

Conclusion

With the tour lasting for 50 days, both teams found some really exciting prospects.

For South Africa, Lungi Ngidi was a real revelation. In the Tests, in two games he took nine wickets at an average of 17.22 with a match winning spell of 6/39 in the second innings of the second Test and picking eight wickets at an average of 25.50 in the four ODIs he played.

Wicketkeeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen, replacement for the injured De Kock, showed his aggressive nature. Two Man of the Match awards in South Africa’s only two limited overs wins, he put up a good show. 110 runs at an average of 36.67 at a strike rate of 90.91 in the ODIs and 92 runs at an average of 30.67 at an average of 191.67 in the T20Is have seen him make it to the Test squad for the forthcoming series against Australia.
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Junior Dala also had a breakthrough T20 series. Picking up seven wickets at an average of 15.71, he ensured South Africa got an early wicket in all three games. Christiaan Jonker, who played only the last T20, almost pulled off an improbable win with an attacking 49 off 24 balls.

For India, Jasprit Bumrah making his Test debut, was a big success. In the three Tests, he took 14 wickets including a fifer in the final Test at an average of 25.21.

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal told the world they are capable of picking wickets anywhere in limited overs formats. Picking 17 and 16 wickets at averages of 13.88 and 16.38 respectively, India have found two attacking options in limited overs cricket.

Manish Pandey had a good T20 series. 121 runs in the three games at a strike rate of 142.35, Pandey gave his dwindling international career another lifeline. The comeback of Suresh Raina in the T20s where he scored 88 runs at an average of 29.33 at a strike rate of 151.72 was a blessing in disguise,

While a huge tour has come to an end, a lot of questions have surfaced. India would go away overly satisfied knowing they won eight out of the twelve games but would also be disappointed at the fact that they lost the Test series by playing some poor cricket in crunch situations.

The ODI series though showed the level at which India played, they are a few miles ahead than many, and Virat Kohli says the team has played only at “80 percent potential”. South Africa, who experimented with appointing a young and inexperienced captain, did not find much of success. The T20s, where South Africa rested most of their first-team players ended up short against their experienced counterparts.

For South Africa, they face Australia in a Four-Test match series at home and India go to Sri Lanka to play a T20 Tri-series including Bangladesh. Another question which has been asked way too frequently, saw massive developments. Virat Kohli scored 871 runs across all formats at an average of 79.18.

Is he the best batsman in the World right now?

All things said and done, this is India’s best tour of South Africa till date, which has seen them become the Number One Team in ODIs too alongside Test Cricket.

Can India sustain this run in the upcoming overseas tours over the next 18 months? The start is certainly positive.

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