The Indian tour of South Africa was a great success for the Protea team. India, with their full strength squad, were the firm favourites right from the start of the series. Proving them wrong, the young Protea side displayed immense intent, and courage and defeated the Indian team. Exactly a year ago, a young Indian team had defeated full strength Aussies, sealing the series as Gabba. Similarly, a young Protea rising from the first test defeat emerged victorious to the best-looking team at the moment. This is why, what Gabba means to India, this series means to South Africa.
Speaking about the test series, the visitor's lived up to the expectations by winning the first game at Centurion, becoming the first Asian team to win a test at the venue. But since then, they were opposed by a determined group of Proteas who adapted to the fierce Indian bowling lineup quickly. They had answers to Indian bowlers, and their bowlers did the trick to send Indian batters back to the pavilion with not moving the scorecard much.
When their best batter Quinton De cock resigned from his services in the longest format of the game, it seemed a difficult task for Proteas, just like it looked after the Adelaide test for India when Virat was not going to be present for the remainder of the series. But the likes of Keegan Peterson, Temba Bavuma and skipper Dean Elgar had different plans which they successfully executed. Marco Jansen also made his mark on the international test circuit.
But at least in the test series, India managed to win one match, leisure which they didn't get in the ODI series. The Men in Blue were whitewashed by the Protea team in the 3 match series. The worst part of the result was not the result of losing matches, it was the lack of intent from the team which was supposed to be one of the top teams. Barring a few names like Virat Kohli, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, no one showed intent.
Furthermore, the middle-order woes prevailing for a year continued for the team. The top-order performance was dominant in the first match, but middle-order failure ensured a collapse. The dependence on the top order has been a matter of concern for the team for a long time, and it is the same thing that haunted India's semi-final in the 2019 world cup against New Zealand. And the cherry on the pie for Proteas was the poor captaincy from KL Rahul. Failing on all fronts like team selection, field placements and rotation of bowlers, he created an unwanted record on his captaincy debut series despite having a strong team.
On the contrary, Temba Bavuma proved his worth as the limited over skipper for Proteas. Along with his leadership skills, he displayed his stronghold of batting. Every fiery conversation happening with him increased his hunger to score more and more. He was strongly assisted by the other batters ensuring a solid middle order. He used bowlers in a good way to create pressure on the batters and chances for his team. The overall result of all was visible to the world.
As an Indian, it hurts to see India struggling to find a form with the best men on the field, but as a cricket fan, it is amazing to see the young Protea team evolve greatly and prove to be a tough competitor for strongest opponents. They will gain tremendous confidence as a young side and would like to take the team forward with the confidence they gained from it. A series in which world-class India came as favourites, won the first game, and then the Protea team turned the tables only to deny India abye victory in the upcoming matches will be remembered as one of the best series in the history of the South African team. It might be a tough pill to swallow for India, but it's a part of the game.
With Rohit coming back in the side as a leader in the series against West Indies, KL will get some time off from his duties as skipper. Alongside, the inclusion of youngsters would ensure they are given a chance to prove themselves. The squad could've been better, but it still looks good to go. Hopefully, the Men in Blue would not repeat the mistakes yet again. If they keep their ego and overconfidence aside, there is no denying fact that they will emerge victoriously.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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