The Indian Cricket team begins the most important part (test series) of it African tour on 18th December 2013. The tour is now a truncated one with only 2 tests to be played instead of the initially planned 3.
Before Indian team landed on the African soil there were all the off field talks going about the war going on between the cricket boards of both the countries. The mood was further gloomed by the death of Nelson Mandela “Madiba” as he was fondly called. But everything is now behind us including the recently concluded 3 match ODI series which South Africa won 2-0 and all the fans are eagerly waiting for the test series to commence.
Looking at the current Indian team which is a very inexperienced one after the retirement of all the greats and the result of the ODI series, South Africa looks clear favourites to run out winners in test matches too. In the test squad apart from Dhoni, Zaheer and Ishant no other player has ever played a test match in South Africa.
Now let us look at some mathematical statistics of how India has fared in all the test matches they have played in South Africa.
Note: We have considered only the matches played after 1992 i.e. after the return of South Africa in International Cricket
|India in Test Matches in South Africa|
India have just won 2/15 matches i.e. they just have a winning percentage of 13%. But another interesting fact is that they have managed “Not to lose” around 53% times
Now let us see the Test records of all test playing nations at home and away for last 10 years
|Test Matches Home Record of last 10 years|
|Test Matches Away Record of last 10 years|
We can see that in the last 10 years South Africa has won 57% of their home games which is a phenomenal record and on the other hands India has managed to win 34% of their away games
But what is interesting to note that India in the last 10 years has managed “Not to Lose” around 68% of their away games which is higher than the 53% they have managed in South Africa and only 5% less than what South Africa manages at home.
Also their winning percentage of 34% is way higher than the 14% they have managed in South Africa.
So if you go purely number wise then yes India has an uphill task to achieve, something which they have never done before. But as the famous Sidhuism goes “Statistics are like bikini, what they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital”
The above statistics reveal that India have been poor travellers to the African land but what they conceal is that there are many psychological factors which can inspire the Indian team to overturn them
Young and Aggressive shot makers:
South African pitches are known for their fast and bouncy nature which does a bit early on. This Indian team is full of young stroke makers who like the ball coming on to the bat and if they weather the early storm then there are runs galore for them
Chance to take the legacy forward:
There is a vacuum created in batting line up after the retirement of the fab four but this gives an opportunity to the likes of Dhawan, Kohli, Rahane, Rohit, and Pujara to make a name for them.
Comeback of the bowling mentor:
Zaheer Khan has for a long time being the spearhead of Indian fast bowling. With the experience of playing in South Africa under him he can be a mentor for the other young bowlers and can guide them to take wickets.
Chokers tag of South Africa:
South African team is known for choking when the other team puts them under pressure. So if the Indian team puts some pressure on them then probably they would wilt and give a leeway to the Indian team.
Indian players to look out for:
Young Indian cricketer who has had a great start to his test career. He has already scored two double hundreds and averages 65 currently. He is also being compared to the great Rahul Dravid and has the technique and temperament to play well on South African pitches. We think that he will play well in the series for India
Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma:
Three aggressive stroke makers who form a pivotal part of the Indian batting. All Indian fans are hoping that they will continue their good form in this series also and help India win.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni:
India would be hoping that the captain cool would provide a calming influence to the team and they would use his experience to draw inspiration.
The comeback man would once again take the mantle of being the spearhead of Indian bowling and would also mentor the young bowlers.
South African players to guard against:
He is the pillar of South African batting and India would be hoping that they do not allow him to get any big scores.
He is the best fast bowler in the world currently. Indian team would want to play cautiously initially against him and not give any early wickets.
All and all this series is going to be very tough and well fought with both teams playing in the right spirit.