India’s tour to South Africa is a shortened affair with only two Tests being played, but the exciting first Test match played at Wanderers makes one feel like there should have been more Tests on offer. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that a three-match Test series would have been a good opportunity for India to grow as a team and make its mark.
Following an exciting first Test match at Johannesburg, South African skipper Graeme Smith yearned for a possibility of a third game in the series. Actually, while India were expected to be bundled out when facing up to the might of South Africa in a matter of three or four days, they unleashed their A game which helped to script a thriller in the just concluded Test match. A potential mismatch turned into one of the most thrilling Tests played in the history of the game and it left the fans yearning for more. However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shortened this tour and the fans have only one more Test to look forward to. In hindsight, BCCI’s move looks even more unacceptable.
The way India have played in the first Test shows that they were up for a challenge and it could have been an interesting series had there been one more game. It isn’t only about playing a full-series, but the Indian team would have grown tremendously had there been a third game. A two — match Test series often seems unfulfilled. One may win the first game on hand and the other team can hit back in the next, but the lack of a series decider match leaves everyone disappointed. So, if there is a third game, it opens up the series with both sides going into the crucial encounter at full throttle. In short, even if a Test ends in a thrilling draw, there is always a chance to comeback in the final Test.
It is that very competition which would have spurned the Indian team and helped them to grow under pressure. This is a young unit and they have been remarkable during their very first outing away from home. While it is an encouraging sign, their real test would be to sustain that intensity in the next Test match. This pressure will only help them grow as Test cricketers and teach them the art of consistency in a series. That is where the BCCI missed a trick and have let go an opportunity to help their side grow. Yes, there are overseas tours lined up in the near future, but a good South African tour would have helped to set the tone.
The other interesting thing that came up during the presentation ceremony was that both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli expressed the need for more practice. For this important tour, India did not play any warm-up games before the One-Day International (ODI) series and were found wanting. Their sole tour match before the Tests was washed out. Kohli did say that playing the ODIs and spending a few days in the Rainbow Nation helped them to adjust well in time for the Tests. What if the Test series was played before the ODIs? One may not have expected such a performance from the Indian team.
For overseas tours, the BCCI has to ensure there are practice games in place even before the ODIs. After all, India is the No 1 ODI side and why would one want to lose games for lack of adjustment or practice? By the time India had a measure of the conditions, the ODI series was gone, as the hosts won the first two games. India head to New Zealand next and commence their tour with the ODIs. A short tour game or two should have been scheduled, as the conditions there are different when compared to those one get to see in South Africa.
It is time tour games are taken seriously and scheduled by the BCCI. India are on a long road away from home and would be touring around the world. Adjustment is the key to performance.
South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket
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