Facing a school level bowling attack on flat tracks where 70% of the matches are played in our homeground itself in India, the likes of Kohli, Sharma, Dhawan have thrived and notched up amazing statistics. Even the recently held Sri-Lankan series in India had a team full of school level players. Hence, players like Kohli, Dhawan and Sharma have not got the real opposition worthy of their class where their skills, patience and resilience can be tested. The earlier generation of Indian batsmen played almost more than 55% of matches overseas against tough wickets and world class bowlers. The current Indian batsman have played 70-75% of their tests on their home pitches on flat batting wickets. Apart Pujara and Rahane, no one has proved to be a potent overseas player till now.
But look no more, the real litmus test begins in South Africa. A pace attack which is right now the most dreaded in the world, the pitches where the ball zooms past the batsman and you won’t even realize and bowlers who can touch 145+ with the ball on a regular interval under hot seaming conditons. Here, if Kohli, Sharma and Dhawan manage to score, they are in the national team’s default list for the next 4 years. World’s best fast bowler Dale steyn will be pumped up & steaming in with deadly line and pace, Vernon Philander and Kasigo Rabade can extract pace even from dead rubbers imagine how they will bowl on their home turf? !! And currently all these 3 pace bowlers are amongst the best fast bowlers in the world topping the ICC Rankings. The pace attack is as deadly as West Indies had in the 70’s and 80’s.
Here it will be fun to see, how many tons and double tons Virat scores, how he channelizes his aggression against world class players equaling him in talent. Here we will get to see how comfortably he can hit the fastest bowlers for an elegant cover drive and here we will get to see how he leads his team against a equally powerful & intelligent team who will not allow him to win easily.
Rohit Sharma who scored a few hundreds against a depleted Sri Lankan Attack will be tested here. Rohit already has a weakness against left-arm fast bowlers and in fact fast bowlers as a whole. Open the Youtube and look how he and Virat struggles against Mohhamad Amir and Junaid Khan of Pakistan. Here they will face that sort of bowling on a consistent basis. Plus the bowlers will already take the benefit of Rohit being highly vulnerable for LBW’s in the first 3 overs of the game. Most of the teams know by now that Rohit takes time to settle against the quality fast bowlers.
Dhawan who has been on and off as far as his form is concerned will have a really tough time facing Dale Steyn and Rabada. While on the other hand, the onus will be on Pujara and Rahane as they are the only ones who have showed resilience, patience and class against quality bowlers like Dravid and Laxman used to play. Hence a lot will depend on them while the likes of Dhawan, Kohli and Sharma will need to prove for the one last time that they can face any attacks on any countries and mark their presence as the best batsman in the world.
The series will be a test for the bowlers too when they get to face the likes of Hashim amla, AB De Villiers, Quinton de kock and du plessis, these names need no introduction & especially Kohli and De Villiers. Here we will get to know the real skills of the bowlers. Pace, fitness, line, length, patience, aggression everything will be tested of the Indian bowlers and batsman and if they pass this test, this team will remain like Ganguly’s team(2000-2006)- together for atleast 4-5years and dominate the world cricket.
Also India has won just one series compared to South Africa who have won 10 test series since 1992 and that speaks a lot about the strength of the South African team. In fact, if we take away the series win in 2015-16, India has never won on Africa’s turf since almost 18years. In the last 33 encounters, Africa with 13wins and 10 draws have the upper hand over India when we look back at the records.
Also different pitches of South Africa will offer different levels of toughness to the Indian Cricketers. The Durban wicket is no doubt a place where if you set in your eyes, you can score but most of the times the fast bowlers get a lot of assistance. R Ashwin and Jadeja will be tested here as the wickets will be extremely tough to bowl on for spinners unlike the spinner friendly conditions in India where they developed good stats on tailormade wickets. The wickets at Cape Town on the other hand may assist the spinners well while the Bloomfointein wicket may generate a lot of pace for fast bowlers.