Friday, February 2, 2018

India Looking to Make Amends with the White Ball

The third and final Test played at the Wanderers between South Africa and India had it all as far as pulsating Test matches go: from a lively pitch, where 40 wickets fell in three and a half days, to the umpires stepping in and taking the players off the ground for their safety after a ball crashed into Dean Elgar’s helmet. The captains unanimously agreed that the show must go on and out the South Africans came to face the music on the fourth day.

A monumental collapse, where the Proteas lost 9 wickets for 53 runs, saw South Africa fall short of the 241 run target set by India. A consolidatory victory for India but that was about it as far as any real satisfaction goes as they eventually went down 2-1 to South Africa in the series.

Kohli will see the six-game ODI series as the chance to win a series in South Africa and salvage some pride before they head home and begin gearing up for an immensely tough fixture list during 2018. Shastri’s men will leave for England after the IPL comes to an end and will then travel to Australia towards the end of the year. That is about as tough as it comes for the Indians as far as touring fixtures go and having already been beaten in their first test series of the year by South Africa, the need to find some momentum is crucial.

The chance is there for India to use the momentum from the test in Johannesburg to their advantage as they tackle du Plessis' charges. Having already beaten India in the Tests, the Proteas could have their eyes on the Australians who touch down on South African shores for a four-Test series in March. Ottis Gibson’s men are 8/11 in the latest cricket odds to beat Australia at home for the first time since readmission, so India may have an opportunity to drive the knife in with the attention of the Proteas shifting towards the threat coming from Australia.

The Indian batsman will have to do a far better job of supporting Kohli than they did in the Tests if India they are to win the ODI series. The Indian captain was the leading run scorer overall during the Tests but still saw his side fail to capitalize on his brilliance at the crease by getting out cheaply and not showing the same hunger and fight Kohli had.

An ODI win in South Africa will help settle the Indians before their whirlwind year ahead picks up pace. Failure to do so will put them under an unnecessary amount of pressure and will have them with their backs to the wall going forward. Many of the batsman on the tour will be hoping to rekindle their touch with the willow and the change to the white ball may help as they are given licenses to come out and play, throwing off the shackles of fear that can arise in the test arena. 

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