Before India embarked on the tour to South Africa, not many would have hoped that it would be triumphant in the contests to follow. Even few would have envisaged a total hiding in some of the games given the lack of experience in South African conditions, the class of the opponents confronting them and the relative inexperience as well. However, as the captain pointed out during the press conference after the 2nd test match ended, the experience that the team gained from the tour was the main takeaway. Some crucial lessons were learnt, which the Indian team would do well to apply in its future games so as to avoid utter humiliation in certain conditions:
Pace and bounce will always be a major problem: In the recent years the pitches in Indian domestic cricket have tended to favor the seamers but they are still not at par with the pitches in Australia and South Africa or even New Zealand and England for that matter and these are the places where the Indian batsmen struggle the most. So, before every tour to such conditions it is imperative that the Indian team practices as much as possible in Dharamshala or Lahli, which are the best grounds for such purposes in India. That way, at least, the batsmen will be in a better position to deal with the hostile fast bowlers and seamers from the opposition team.
It is essential to find quick bowlers: India has already some good seamers but they need to find more in order to present more of a challenge across all conditions. Bowlers such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma have been exposed on the South African tour owing to the lack of pace – the sudden demotion of Kumar, who till the West Indies series was taking the new ball for India across formats, is an indication of the sheer value that pace holds in world cricket.
Seam bowling allrounders have to be unearthed: During the press conference after the 2nd test Dhoni made a very valid point saying that with only 4 specialist bowlers the team was finding it hard to bowl 100 odd overs in every innings and the only solution is someone like Jacques Kallis. The Indian cricketer who comes close to him at the moment is Irfan Pathan who has the capability to play as a genuine batsman. Perhaps his inclusion in the test eleven will help India find the much needed balance in the challenges that lie ahead.
Batsmen need to show restraint: According to former greats such as Geoff Boycott one of the most hyped aspects of the modern day batsman is the tendency to play your natural game irrespective of the circumstances. Considering the number of times that the Indian team has got into a soup for this propensity, especially in the tests, it is perhaps time that a stern message is issued that airy-fairy shots will not be tolerated at any rate, especially in trying situated and Dhoni needs to take a lead in this.