SA will face world's best Test team‚ home or away‚ in India
India have become the most unbeatable men’s team in Test cricket at home under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. And away.
Since Kohli took charge for the first time‚ at Adelaide in December 2014‚ India have won 29 of their 51 Tests.
That 17 of those successes have been achieved in the 23 matches they have played at home is no surprise.
But it’s a measure of Kohli’s leadership that they have won a dozen of their 28 away Tests with him at the helm.
Discounting the complication of Pakistan playing their home games at neutral venues‚ no team have had a better victory rate during Kohli’s captaincy — whether measured overall‚ home or away — than India.
“It’s a responsibility that I’m fulfilling‚” Kohli said after his and India’s latest triumph‚ in Antigua on Sunday‚ when they beat West Indies by 318 runs with a day to spare.
“It’s a blessing that I am in a position to contribute to my team in more than one way.
“Nothing is possible without the team. I am taking the decisions but it is up to the individuals to do the execution.”
South Africa will step into this scenario next month‚ when they travel to India for a tour of three T20s and as many Tests.
The white-ball stuff comes first and will carry unusual significance with a T20 World Cup looming in Australia in October next year.
But it’s the Test series‚ which starts in Visakhapatnam on October 2‚ that will ring with relevance and resonance for six of South Africa’s players in particular.
Faf du Plessis‚ Temba Bavuma‚ Dean Elgar‚ Vernon Philander‚ Dane Piedt and Kagiso Rabada‚ all members of the Test squad of 14‚ are the survivors from South Africa’s last series in India‚ in November 2015.
Their supporters will remember that rubber for the poor batting their team delivered on even poorer pitches to go down 3-0.
But India’s fans will mark those matches as Kohli’s first series as captain in his own backyard‚ which followed two games in Australia‚ one in Bangladesh and three in Sri Lanka.
India won only two of those matches‚ which put Kohli under pressure when he came home.
How well he has answered the questions.
And how big a role South Africa played in helping him do so.
Almost four years on more questions are posed.
But‚ in the wake of a dismal World Cup and an unsettled landscape across the game in their country‚ these are for the South Africans to answer.