Team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli have performed exceptionally well in the longest format of cricket in the last few seasons, but former India opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar reckons that the litmus test of world’s number one Test side is still awaiting.
In particular, Gavaskar issued warning for the Indian batters by stating that it will be a real challenge for Kohli and company to cope up with the South African bowling attack which will be bolstered by the return of certain Dale Steyn.
“Dale Steyn will be itching to play Test cricket after a long lay-off due to injury. Whether he will be able to regain his pace is something only time will tell, but even if he bowls at reduced speed his late moving out-swingers will not be easy for the Indian batsmen to negotiate. There is also Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel to contend with, and that’s going to be much more difficult than facing just Suranga Lakmal,” Gavaskar wrote in his recent column for Sportstar.
Raising his concern over Indian captain Virat Kohli’s lack of match practice going into the first Test, the legendary opener said it is always tough to get back to the groove. However, he remains optimistic that Kohli is capable of regaining form and conquering fatigue.
“The other worry will be the fact that Virat Kohli will be away from top class cricket until January 5. Luckily, he has age on his side and so getting back the physical contours for international cricket won’t be too tough,” the Little Master wrote.
Team India recently registered their 9th consecutive Test series victories under Kohli and thereby equalled Australia’s legendary skipper Ricky Ponting’s feat of most consecutive Test series win as a captain. India now have a chance to make 10 in a row, however, what sounds difficult is – no Indian side has ever won a Test series on the South African soil. No wonder, Gavaskar believes that 2018 could be the turnaround one for this Indian team.
“2018 could well be the year when the Indian team does what it has never done before — win a series in South Africa, and later in Australia. Hopefully, the scheduling by then will be such that India will be in Australia well in advance and play proper first class matches. They will then not have to ask for pitches like the one they had at the Eden Gardens,” concluded Sunil Gavaskar.
India Test Squad:
Virat Kohli(c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah
Itinerary (India’s tour to South Africa):
Jan 05 - Jan 09, 1st Test – Newlands, Cape Town
Jan 13 - Jan 17, 2nd Test – SuperSport Park, Centurion
Jan 24 - Jan 28, 3rd Test – New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Feb 01, 1st ODI – Kingsmead, Durban
Feb 04, 2nd ODI – SuperSport Park, Centurion
Feb 07, 3rd ODI – Newlands, Cape Town
Feb 10, 4th ODI – New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Feb 13, 5th ODI – St George's Park, Port Elizabeth
Feb 16, 6th ODI – SuperSport Park, Centurion
Feb 18, 1st T20I – New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Feb 21, 2nd T20I – SuperSport Park, Centurion
Feb 24, 3rd T20I – Newlands, Cape Town