Following the successful tour of the West Indies, the morale of the Indian camp is upbeat. The number one ICC test ranking side is gearing up to conquer the home series against the visiting Proteas. In the recently concluded series against the Caribbean (West Indies), India dominated in all the three formats and returned home without losing a single game. Team India are now locking horns with the inexperienced South African squad for three T20 Internationals and three-test match series.
Series get underway with T20
The T20 series will get underway on September 15, Sunday at the foothill town of Dharamshala, which is the second capital of Himachal Pradesh. Quinton de Kock, the veteran baby-faced wicketkeeper is commanding the team in T20I. Although the side has no big names, but their young blood has landed on the India soil with a determination and an eagerness to take on the host on equal footing.
India starts favourite
At present India has been playing some tremendous cricket to tarnish the hopes of any opponent. Whatever are the formats men in blue play with an objective, not to give up till the end. Stiff competition and to cement place in the team have elevated the performance of our cricketers.
It is anticipated that India should seal the three-match T20 series. Kohli and his troops pounce on their opponents like cheetah to flat the opposite number. In the recent Caribbean tour India stamped its authority and played aggressive brand of cricket with an aim, not to give any respite to the rival.
Tag of choker
But Proteas (South Africa) although is known as a choker on cricket field, yet this side changes its colour like a chameleon and catch the neck of the rivals without them realising. Accepting challenge in different circumstances has made South Africa distinct from others. Anticipation is high that the series of the shortest format would be full of entertainment and the chances of close finishes are on the card.
Test series a part of WTC
Then the focus will shift from shortest format to the traditional and longest format of the game, Gandhi-Mandela series. The upcoming three test-match series would be played under the banner of World Test Championship (WTC). South Africa’s campaign for WTC will get underway from October 2, in Visakhapatnam. India has already accumulated maximum 120 points against the Caribbean and is leading in the point table.
Changing pendulum from one format of the game to the other is the real test of players concentration, adjustment, temperament, patience and mental wavelength. Therefore, performance with the red ball in cricket is the real test of a player.
Opening slot – A major concern for India
India’s opening slot needs new face to make it formidable. So, the selectors showed some faith in the young Shubham Gill, who earned his maiden Test call-up, while KL Rahul’s inconsistent batting form led to his omission from the test team. Rahul’s expulsion has opened up the gates for Rohit Sharma to open the innings in test-match against the visiting side.
Pujara ready to make amends
Cheteshwar Pujara’s bat failed to fire in the West Indies. Cricket pundits always say that “form is temporary, but class is permanent”. Pujara has time to forget the previous tour and start with a new ambition against a much stronger opponent. Rahane scored heavily in the West Indies, which is a healthy sign for team India. Hanuma Vihari was the find of the last series. The middle order is now looking rock solid at least on the paper. Hanuma and Rahane almost sealed slot Nos 5 and 6 in the batting order respectively.
Bumrah cynosure of all eyes
Bowling department has been spearheaded by Jaspreet Bumrah. The poster boy of Indian cricket has changed the mindset of team management to insert more fast bowlers in the playing XI. Blood thirsty fast bowlers are mushrooming in the country at this moment, like it used to be in the Caribbean during 70s and 80s.
Top batsmen of world cricket would like to remain on non-striker end against Bumrah’s threatening bowling. He is the most lethal bowler in the world cricket today. Putting together Bumrah, Shami and Ishant Sharma, the Indian fast balling attack is capable of turning the complexion of the match.
Spinners may make Proteas to dance
Spin department has full potential to mesmerise any batting on turning Indian pitches. Two spinners must be included in the playing eleven. R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav all of them are true match winners. At the outset India is firm favourite to surpass the Proteas in both the formats. Team India have an opportunity to gain maximum points to remain on the top of point table in the WTC.
Never underestimate South Africa
It would be a misconception to take the Proteas lightly. They have quality and inspiring bowling attack. Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, and Lungi Ngidi, can rip through any batting order. Proteas batting is full of talent headed by captain Faf du Plessis; other batsmen are replete with quality to smother top attack of the world. The hosts must be careful against the young energetic visiting side.
Proteas starts cricket in India after 22 years
South Africa’s tour of India has a historic significance as well. After nearly spending 22 years in exile, from the international cricket due to apartheid policy, South Africa arrived in India to begin a new chapter as well as its second innings of cricket history in 1991.
The first match of the three-match one day series was played at Eden Garden. Thousands of fans were standing in the queue in Kolkata, the ‘city of joy’ to greet the Proteas. Eden Garden hosted the first match. Despite losing the series 2-1 the Proteas rang the alarming bell of their strong arrival in international cricket after a gap of 22 years back then.
Rice compares India series with Armstrong feeling
The captain of the South African team in that series Clive Rice was impressed with the Indian hospitality and respect they got from the fans. Clive Rice was quoted in Wisden as saying, “I know how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon.” Unfortunately, he is no more, but his words will always touch the heart.
India & Proteas start test series after 22 years
India had got the privilege and being the first international team to play a Test match in 1992 on the South African soil after a lull of 22 years. Although South Africa knocked India down in the series but gritty fight by team India impressed the South African greats of yesteryears. Since 1992 healthy rivalry between the two strong cricketing nations are continuing. On the field they are great contenders but off the field their relationship is friendly.