Team India is on the verge of starting their toughest cricketing season, starting with the three-Test series against South Africa. The no.1 ranked team will also play England, Australia, and New Zealand in the upcoming season as well.
Virat Kohli led India has won nine consecutive Test series, but pitches full of pace in South Africa has been the bane of Indian touring parties since 1992. Indian batting has always fallen apart in front of Proteas bowling.
Indian bowling has also lacked the fire and pace to match their South African counterparts. But this time around, experts believe that Team India has the firepower and in-form bowlers to beat South Africa in the own backyard.
Let’s take a look at the strengths and weakness that Team India faces in this series:
The biggest strength of Team India is the form of their batsmen, especially Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and the presence of Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan in the team. The biggest plus for team India is actually the fast bowling contingent that India currently possesses. With Mohd Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in their line-up, Team India has the ability to give South Africa a taste of their own medicine.
During the previous tours, the form or the lack of it of the Indian spinners proved fatal to India’s chances of winning the Test series. But this time, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are coming off a successful season and have made some necessary tweaks in their bowling to suit the faster pitches in South Africa.
All of the Indian fast bowlers are able to hit the 140 kmph mark easily and Ishant Sharma’s height and Jasprit Bumrah’s abnormal bowling action and surprise factor of bowling in the longer format will cause problems for the Proteas batting.
The Indian batting will initially find it hard to face the pace and swing of Rabada, Morkel, and Morris, but after spending some time, they will get used to it and score runs off them.
The biggest weakness that India will face is the way their spinners go about bowling on the South African pitches. The second problem is the ideal team combination that India will look to go in the Test series.
On the last tour of the rainbow nation, Indian spinners failed to pick up a wicket in the Joburg Test and that helped South Africa almost chasing down the target of 458. Ashwin and Jadeja will have to find a new trick to keep them helpful on this tour. They will obviously play a supporting role to the fast bowlers after the fast bowlers did for them during the long home season. Only one of Ashwin or Jadeja will get to play in the playing XI unless South Africa decides to prepare a rank turner for their spinner in one of the Tests.
The second weakness will be the how the Indian batting lineup deals with the South African pace battery of Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo, not forgetting the great Dale Steyn. India also needs to find the perfect combination of the team that they will play. Will the team management go in with 6 batsmen, 3 quick bowlers, one spinner and all-rounder Hardik Pandya or will they go with four fast bowlers and one spinner?
The three-Test series between India and South Africa is definitely poised to give the viewers and fans of both teams some top quality cricket that will test the mettle of the no.1 Test team and the contender for the no.1 spot.
This series will also be the litmus test for team India captain Virat Kohli, who is on a dream run as both the leader of the Indian team and as the premier batsman of the team.