The ODI series against South Africa has been abominable to watch for every Indian cricket fanatic, who hasn’t experienced such a mauling in a long long time. In many ways, this was not expected from the currently no.1 ranked ODI side and as a result of such an appalling show, pundits and many Indian cricket followers themselves have written off Mahi & Co. staging a comeback in the upcoming Test series against the no.1 ranked Test side in South Africa.
But if you’re looking for some kind of an inspiration, and hope that India can put the dismal showing in the ODIs behind them and take it to South Africa in the Test series starting from Dec 18th, then look no further than this article, which focuses on areas that should stand India in good stead leading up to the Test series.
1. Zaheer Khan’s return to the side
The return of Zaheer Khan should act as a tonic for the likes of Mohamed Shami and Ishant Sharma. Zaheer himself has been a proven nemesis of Graeme Smith in the past and I wouldn’t rule out another entertaining contest between these two come the morning on Dec 18th.
Zaheer, being the leader of the pace attack could have a positive effect on Shami and Ishant Sharma, which could consequently bring the best out of the tender quickies for India in South African conditions.
Indian bowling attack, which largely boasts of swing bowlers, should relish the kind of surfaces that will be on offer at the Wanderers and Kingsmead in Durban as well.
If Zaheer Khan, Mohamed Shami and either of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav do complete the Indian fast bowling attack, I am sure that they will be a hot cup of coffee to handle for the South African batsmen.
2. Cheteshwar Pujara’s solidity
As Dhoni rightly pointed out at the Toss today, Indian batsmen have been guilty of trying to play an aggressive brand of cricket against the likes of Steyn and Morkel, one, that has backfired in the limited overs series against the Proteas thus far.
Cheteshwar Pujara could be the batsman, who holds the Indian innings together in the Test series. He has all the necessary ingredients to guts it out in the middle, when Steyn and Morkel go for the jugular.
India will be hoping to see off the new ball with minimal damage done to their batting order and Pujara could play a pivotal role in achieving that. With Pujara in the side, likes of Kohli and Rohit Sharma could get that much needed cushion of not having to face up to the new ball, one, which has been their undoing in the ODI series so far.
Pujara is going to be the kind of batsman, India missed during the ODI series, but hopefully, he can play a major role in resurrecting an abysmal looking tour of South Africa.
3. Test match allows you to recuperate from a bad start
There has been a lot of talk that India hasn’t managed to get off to a good start, both with the bat and ball and they have been made to pay for it by a relentless South African pace battery.
What Test match cricket could do to India is, even if they don’t manage to get off to a decent start, either with the bat or ball, the duration of 5-day cricket will allow India to claw their way back into the game, one, that was not possible in the ODI series.
4. Indian squad to be acclimatized to the conditions before the Test series
No excuses for the appalling show in the ODI series, but a good fortnight of match practice in South African conditions should see India coming up with a better performance in the Test series.
Yes, there wasn’t a single practice game in the lead-up to the ODI series and as it seems, Dhoni’s men are facing the darker side of coming into an overseas tour without pertinent match practice.
But the tour game in Benoni against South African invitation XI, should give the Indian side much needed exposure to red ball cricket in the fast and bouncy pitches of South Africa and will no doubt give them the competitive edge in the Test series, something that they have lacked right through the 3 One-Day Internationals.
5. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties
Nobody expected England to receive such a battering at the hands of the Australians in the ongoing Ashes series in Australia, and strange as they come, Pakistan were never given a smidgen chance of toppling South Africa in their own den, prior to the ODI series against the Men In Blue.
So maybe, India vs South Africa Test series could spring up another surprising result as well.
Irrespective of what has happened in the 3-match ODI series, the Test matches against South Africa presents India with another chance to prove their mettle and show what they are really capable of.