Testing Tests

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Jan 2018 12:19:09

Having lost the first two tests earlier, the Indian team had to put everything in the third and final test to salvage their pride and prestige and wipe out the long-stuck tag of ‘poor travellers’. And on Saturday the fourth day of the Wanderers Test, all the four pacers rose to the occasion to halt the Hashim Amla - Dean Elgar juggernaut to pocket a 63-run deserving win. It is a rare occasion for Indian cricket that their pacers had won a test match on their own merit.

Not in recent memory has an Indian cricket team put so much value in its pace department as it did on this tour. It is a rarity that an Indian team has entered a Test series with five speedsters, with no trace of playing the customary spin card. And what a display of sheer artistry and craftsmanship of pace bowling.

It was indeed a surprise for the South African hosts to see India unleash a barrage of pace bowling, giving them the dose of their own medicine. And the spectacle of the South African batsmen dancing to the tune of Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, was quite enticing and mouth-watering too, not just in the last test but also in the other two tests. The South African batsmen got battered and bruised with the Indian pacers hitting them everywhere on their bodies.

So much was the fire in the bowling that the umpires ultimately had to call off the play before the scheduled closure time on Friday, for the pitch had turned too dangerous to continue play. That of course is a tribute to the emerging bowling talent in India. Vernon Philander, who had bragged before the start of the series that his South African pace colleagues would make the Indian batsmen face the music, had to concede that India played better.

While the bowlers gave an extremely good account of themselves, the batting side needs to take fresh lessons in batting on pacy, bouncy wickets. Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy this is the first tour abroad that has gone reasonably well. There are lot of positives to be taken from this gruelling experience. It will be especially handy when the Indian team will encounter similar conditions during the forthcoming tour of Australia and England.

The Test series is going to help the Indian team in the forthcoming one-day and 20-Twenty series against South Africa as this experience will come in handy for the shorter versions of game. The Indian Team will be travelling much in the current year. Hence, the beginning of the new year could be considered as a mixed bag with promises of good show on foreign soil and retain its numero-uno position in International Cricket. While the bowlers have risen to the occasion during the test series in South Africa, the onus will now be on the batting side.