Unchartered territory is an expression that’s quick shedding its relevance with regards to Indian cricket. For years, areas which have been just about no-go zones, have been become free-access rides by Virat Kohli and his band of fearless warriors.
Fort Australia has fallen, a win in England is now not a once-in-25-years expertise, and now it is about conquering South Africa. Centurion, a bastion of the Proteas since their readmission into worldwide cricket within the early Nineties, has been smashed and the juggernaut strikes to Wanderers for the second Test, a venue the place India have by no means misplaced a Test match.
Kohli could not have requested for a greater setting to understand a dream that germinated when he received a useless rubber on a treacherous Wanderers observe 4 years in the past. The Indian group began to imagine that international shores may very well be conquered, and right here they’re, on the verge of placing a seal on their world domination in Test cricket over the past 4 years.
The observe on supply, as coach Rahul Dravid identified on the eve of the sport, is a “result pitch”. It’s understood that there’s some grass and India will as soon as once more unleash their battery of 4 pacers to take care of any trace of South African resurgence.
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been sensible within the first Test and the one reason behind concern was the ankle sprain that the Bumrah suffered within the first innings. He got here again to bowl fantastically after that and it could be attention-grabbing to see if each Shami and Bumrah have recovered sufficient from the rigours of the primary Test to be prepared for this one. Just in case, any one among them just isn’t 100 %, India have a ready-made back-up in Umesh Yadav, who bowled nicely within the restricted alternatives he obtained in England.
While most items fell into place for India within the first Test, the slight concern was the type of Cheteshwar Pujara, who did not get runs on the essential No. 3 slot. But Dravid indicated that the group administration is not too apprehensive about it. “Pujara understands the importance of a big score and is working hard. He may well get the runs soon enough,” Dravid mentioned.
Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli, too, did not get the large scores, however they did not precisely battle and the coach felt there’s not a lot of a priority. What apprehensive him only a tad was the truth that India obtained all out for 325 within the first innings after being 272-3 after Day 1. “That’s something we should guard against,” Dravid mentioned.
There are a couple of scattered thunderstorms which are predicted over the following 5 days, however the Indian group is not specializing in the uncontrollables. Also the truth that they received the primary Test nicely inside time, regardless of a day’s wash-out ought to give Kohli the arrogance.
There’s one other plus for India and that is the turmoil that the South African group is in. They obtained into the sequence with hardly any red-ball observe and that confirmed of their sport. That was adopted by the retirement of senior wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock, which implies the batting can be much more quick on expertise. Kyle Verreynne, with a two-Test expertise, can be his alternative, however it is not straightforward towards a high quality Indian assault on a difficult pitch for a newcomer.
South Africa’s solely space of power is their tempo assault led by Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. Both have been good in Centurion and paceman Duanne Olivier, who missed the primary Test attributable to Covid and fatigue-related points, is also again, whereas captain Dean Elgar prompt that left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj will retain his spot.
But Dravid made it clear that India aren’t taking something as a right and have sufficient respect for South Africa.