As the Indians gear up to begin life without some of their most celebrated batsmen ever, taking on the world No 1 South Africa in a two-match Test series, the young and talented cricketers of this new Indian side will have to take charge and script their own destiny, and moreover, bring an end to the poor run they have had in overseas tours, says Devarchit Varma.
India have been a dominant force at home, pounding every opposition that has visited its shores in the last couple of months. But, when the ball shifts to the foreign conditions, where a lot of factors are not in favour of the Indians, they have been found wanting time and again.
Eight Test losses on a trot – is India’s performance in Test cricket when they played the longest form of the game last time overseas. They were pummeled, battered and bruised by the English and the Australian sides, and the future looked bleak unless some strong measures were taken by the selectors and the team management. The Indian side, under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni took all the blows on the chin and did well to prepare for their next overseas assignment – the tour of South Africa in 2013-14 after a gap of almost one-and-a-half-years.
The team got ample amount of time to make necessary changes, and to give the new players enough time to settle down and find their feet. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma not only did well to make the most of what they were awarded, but they also showed the hunger to succeed at the top level and proved that they belong there.
India have always depended on their batsmen to score heavily, and this has been the core of their strength – be it playing at home or overseas. The fresh faces in the side, Pujara, Rohit, Kohli and Dhawan are now the arsenal of India’s biggest strength, and as they take on the mighty South Africans, all eyes are on these cricketers to not only start a fresh era, but also bring an end to the humiliation that India have had in their last tours.
The South African captain Graeme Smith puts it right when he says the tour will be a test of character of the young Indian batsmen. On the eve of the first Test, Smith said, “Touring different parts of the world is a test of character, and it is going to be so for them in the next two Test matches.” The ball is now in the court of these young Indian cricketers – to show that they can not only excel at home on placid tracks, but can succeed overseas as well.
The likes of Pujara, Rohit, Kohli and Dhawan have a humongous task in the hand. At home, they have performed well against every opposition, but the challenge in South Africa will be completely different. They will face the toughest bowling attack on pace-friendly tracks. The South Africans will be raring to go against the Indians, and may be settle scores on-field after what has happened off it. The battle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) not only infuriated the South African fans, but would have left the cricketers in a bad mood as well.
The Indians are perhaps facing one of the toughest challenges they will ever encounter. They haven’t got any opportunity to prepare; the opposition side has one of the deadliest bowling attacks; the pitches and conditions are not something they are used to, and moreover, the mauling they received in the One-Day International (ODI) series is doing no good to their confidence.
It’s over to the Indian cricketers to pass this ‘test of character’ and end the dry spell overseas.
South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket
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