The young and dynamic Indian team is embarking shortly on a tour to South Africa.
This is an exciting prospect, as it will be a good indicator about the true potential of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side.
Unfortunately, the tour includes just two Test matches. A true test would have been a series of at least four Tests as it would have brought out the ability, consistency, sustainability, fitness and strategies of both sides.
The mentality for the longest version of the game is entirely different and therefore, most recent Test matches have been finishing well before the last day.
The other disadvantage is that the team does not get the opportunity to change the playing eleven as in a two-match series it would be unfair to drop any player on account of a single failure. This at times can be very frustrating for the reserve players as their only contribution starts and ends with carrying liquid supplements.
India has selected a very in-form batting side. Each one of them looks a match-winner.
Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara are bubbling with confidence and self-belief. They have all established themselves creditably in their home conditions and for any sportsman the challenge of replicating it in unfamiliar ones is the true test.
They are bold and brash and one hopes they remain positive even when balls are whizzing past their faces or deviating appreciably off the wicket.
Due to the Indian Premier League, players are now quite familiar with each other and so one will see a bit of banter, stares and sledging which I feel does add to the drama and excitement.
India have strengthened their bowling by selecting Zaheer Khan, who I feel will bring experience and the left-arm variety to the pace attack. Both he and Yuvraj Singh have shown the importance of fitness in today’s game and the quicker Umesh Yadav or an Ishant Sharma imbibe it the better it will be for the future of Indian cricket.
Pakistan has shown that spin is an essential weapon to trouble the South Africans and therefore R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha will need to play a vital part in curbing their strong batting line-up.
The crucial aspect will be how the Indian batsmen handle the fast short-pitched bowling, as watching some of them playing the hook and pull shot off the front foot does not give me immense confidence.
Great players change their technique to overcome such situations and one hopes that the present Indian batting line-up is ready to do so.
The South African side must be itching to play a Test series at home. They seem very keen to establish their superiority and number one status and have now a mix of experience and youth in both their batting and bowling. It will be interesting to see whether they will prepare green tops for their bowlers. Their sole Test-class spinner Imran Tahir could also benefit from the extra nip as he is not a bowler who rips and turns it appreciably across a batsman.
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly have both stressed on the importance of India winning away from home as a true indicator to progress.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)
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