India lost the Test series in South Africa 2-1 but totally dominated the ODI series, winning emphatically 5-1 to assert superiority in no uncertain terms.
In an amazing display of batsmanship, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, proved to be a thorn in the flesh of South African bowlers as his scores in the last seven innings suggest 160,46 not out, 102,113,29,121 and 129 not out.
No Indian batsman has ever been so dominant in South Africa in the past, not even the master batsman Sachin Tendulkar. The hallmark of Virat Kohli’s batting is his inimitable temperament and determination to stay at the wicket without any hiccups. His style of play, in fact, is much superior and classy than great batsmen like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, or for that matter Rahul Dravid.
Kohli plays in V shape as the great Don Bradman advocated and never plays in the air. He gradually builds his inning to lay a solid foundation to dominate. Young players around the world should take a leaf out of Kohli’ book to progress and prosper.
Today, Indian batting without Kohli would be rudderless. If Kohli continues to score runs with the same frequency, he may well eclipse Tendulkar’s record tons in ODIs without any doubt.
Batting apart, the Indian spinners too gave a good account of themselves, mesmerising the South African batsmen, including the great de Villiers and Hashim Amla.
South African batting great of yesteryear, Jacques Kallis, has said that South African batsmen failed to read the Indian wrist-spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvender Chahal and perished at regular intervals. But Kallis forgets that attack is the best form of defence, and the South African batsmen were never on the attack. They were mostly glued to their crease and never used their feet to smother the spin safely.
Great batsmen in the world like Ian Chappell, Brian Lara, Vivian Richards et al. tamed the spinners and scored runs fluently which kept the spectators in awe and delight. Nowadays, batsmen do not use their feet against the spinners and succumb.
Look how the Pakistan batsmen, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik butchered the Indian wily and experienced spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindran Jadeja, in the recent Champions Trophy final in England where Pakistan beat India by a whopping 183 runs.
Neither Ashwin nor Jadeja could bag a single wicket, though both bowled ten overs each. Sixes were raining from the blade of Zaman, Hafeez and Malik against Ashwin and Jadeja.
The Pakistani strategy was the result of Imran Khan’s counsel to Pakistan skipper Sarfraz: play attacking and aggressive cricket. A strategy Imran Khan himself adopted in 1992 World Cup final in Australia against England to lift the Cup in style.
India’s performance in South Africa augurs well for the Indian team in view of the forthcoming ICC World Cup in England next year from May 30 to July 14. India won the World Cup in England in 1983 under Kapil Dev and again in 2011 in Mumbai under Mahender Singh Dhoni, apart from being the runners-up in 2003, and semi-finalists thrice in 1987, 1996 and 2015.
But before the 2019 World Cup comes to the Indian tour to England. And that will determine how well the Indian batsmen adapt to the conditions in England where the ball swerves and swings a lot to bother a batsman of the highest class.
How well Kohli plays in England is a million dollar question since the Indian batting line-up presently centres around him without the least doubt.