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India tour of South Africa 2023-24: Quest for Historic Test Series Win in SA

India tour of South Africa 2023-24: With much younger squad this time, will India be able to clinch coveted Test series in South Africa? What should be Team India's combination?

India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma to play test series against South Africa | Walking Wicket (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter))
Virat and Rohit to play test series on India tour of South Africa 2023-24 (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter))

Embarking on a historic endeavour, the India cricket team is poised to face South Africa in a crucial two-match Test series on South African soil. Fuelled by the desire to secure a milestone achievement, India aims to clinch its first-ever Test series victory in the challenging South African conditions.


The upcoming series presents a golden opportunity for the India team to etch its name in the pages of history. The two matches promise intense competition and a chance for India to rewrite the narrative on foreign soil against a formidable opponent.


Before delving into the chances of India winning the Test series in South Africa later this year, let's take a trip back in history to gauge how the India team has performed there in the bygone years.

Season

Result

1992/93

South Africa 1-0

1996/97

South Africa 2-0

2001/02

South Africa 1-0

2006/07

South Africa 2-1

2010/11

Drawn 1-1

2017/18

South Africa 2-1

2021-22

South Africa 2-1

India in South Africa 2006/07

India scripted history by registering its first-ever Test match victory on South African soil in the opening game of the three-match series. Led by an exceptional performance from S. Sreesanth, India triumphed by 123 runs at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, taking a 1–0 lead in the series. However, the tables turned in the later matches.


India in South Africa 2021/22

India's historic win at Centurion Park in the first Freedom Trophy Test set a promising tone for the series. However, South Africa bounced back at Wanderers Stadium, securing a 7-wicket victory in the second Test, driven by Dean Elgar and Marco Jansen.


The series concluded at Newlands Cricket Ground, with South Africa claiming a 7-wicket win to clinch the series. Rishabh Pant's century wasn't enough to thwart South Africa's dominance. Despite India's initial triumph, the series ultimately favoured the hosts.

As the team heads into the upcoming test series, fans are hopeful that this unfinished job will be completed. The fighting spirit witnessed in the series against South Africa last time has left fans eagerly anticipating a triumphant comeback from the India team this time.


India Test Squad for South Africa tour of 2023-24: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), KL Rahul (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Prasidh Krishna

India players runs and average since 2018 in Tests in South Africa

Virat Kohli is the highest run-scorer on South African soil since 2018, followed by KL Rahul, both present in the current squad. Ravichandran Ashwin has also been a decent scorer with the bat and is part of the squad.

India players bowling performance since 2018 in Tests in South Africa

Regarding bowling, Mohammed Shami will be the go-to option for wicket-taking for Captain Rohit Sharma. The next effective bowler on South African soil since 2018 has been Jasprit Bumrah. Shardul Thakur will also be a key bowler, placed at number three in the list of wicket-takers from India on South African soil since 2018. While Mohammed Siraj has been expensive in the past, he has shown improvement over time and will be someone to watch in the upcoming series.


Team Opts for Young Blood over Pujara and Rahane

Observing the batters' table, the two names that come up after Kohli and Rahul are Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. However, these two red-ball giants are no longer part of the present team.


This signifies a strategic shift by selectors but didn’t come as a shock as it was anticipated by many. Over time, their performances witnessed a decline, and consistent failures on crucial occasions prompted the selectors to explore fresh options for the team's future.

The exit of these two experienced players opens doors for young talents, placing a significant responsibility on their shoulders to fill the void and uphold the legacy.


Pujara and Rahane have set the benchmark high, and the challenge now rests with the promising youngsters to carry the torch forward, ensuring the team's continued success in the international circuit in this format.

How can the Playing 11 Shape Up?

Returning after missing the previous South Africa test series due to injury, Rohit Sharma is now set to lead the team on their soil. It will be intriguing to watch as the team, primarily shaped by Virat Kohli, transitions under Rohit's captaincy.

Without a doubt, Rohit will serve as one of the opening batters, while KL Rahul takes on the role of the wicketkeeper, with no Rishabh Pant. In the absence of Pujara, it is anticipated that KL Rahul will partner with Rohit Sharma at the top, followed by Shubman Gill at number three. The batting lineup after Gill is expected to feature Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, and then the bowling unit.



Importance of Shardul Thakur in Creating Team Balance

Shardul Thakur emerges as the pivotal balancing factor in the team for the South Africa series, where a combination of four pacers is vital. Thakur's dual proficiency as a seamer and a capable batter adds a crucial dimension to the side.


His ability to contribute significantly with both bat and ball will be a determining factor in the team's success. A subpar performance from Thakur could pose a challenge, forcing the team to make a difficult choice between strengthening the bowling with an additional bowler or fortifying the batting with an extra batter. The team's strategy in South Africa will considerably shape Thakur's performance.


Gill, Iyer Expected to Fill in the Shoes of Pujara-Rahane

The probable players who will be coming in for Pujara and Rahane’s positions will be Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer, respectively.

India batters on foreign soil since 2020

The above graph gives an idea of how the India batters have scored on foreign soil in Test cricket since 2020. Gill has played as many as 8 games, whereas Iyer has been able to play three games away from India. Both have scored significantly well, having really good averages. Thus, it is expected that they will do a good job in carrying the legacy forward of their seniors.


With a well-balanced team, India seems ready for the fight in South Africa. The key lies in the batters' ability to post substantial totals, complemented by the pacers consistently claiming 20 wickets. The performance of the young talents and the versatile Shardul Thakur assumes paramount importance.

Senior players Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli must lead by example, providing stability and experience. A lot depends on their camaraderie and performances on the field with the bat and tactical decision-making, as they are the spearheads whom the rest of the team looks up to. The uncertainty of the future, with the next series probably happening 2-3 years later, highlights the significance of making this opportunity count. After closely missing the World Cup win opportunity, they will leave no stone unturned for winning this series.

If these elements align seamlessly, India stands a strong chance of scripting their maiden Test series victory on South African soil.


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