13 of the 17 players who have been selected in the squad led by Virat Kohli for the upcoming three-match Test series against South Africa toured the rainbow nation four years ago when India lost the two-match series 1-0. Led by MS Dhoni back then, the team gave the hosts a run for their money in the first game before losing the following one to concede the series.
But while the current squad does not have too many new additions to the one that lost the series four years ago, expectations are sky-high from the Virat Kohli-led side. India’s record in South Africa has been dismal so far. Since 1992 when India first toured the African country for the first time, they have won just two of the 17 Tests they have played in South Africa. Of the six-Test series in South Africa, the Proteas have won five with a 1-1 drawback in the 2010-11 season being India’s best return.
But the current side, which has registered a record nine consecutive series wins and is yet to lose a series under Kohli, has been tipped by many to end India’s long wait for a maiden Test series win in South Africa. And skipper Kohli is also hopeful of a good show from the players most of whom have already played in South Africa. Speaking to the media after India’s first practise session, Kohli said the team and the players are more experienced and have a better understanding of the game.
“As you rightly mentioned, lot of our players have played here before. But what he [Ravi Shastri] mentioned was the number of games that we had played back then, compared to now, and where we stand in understanding our own games, is something that has come a long way in the last four years. From a personal point of view, I know my game much better. I’ve had many highs and lows after that (the last series in South Africa),” Kohli said on Saturday (December 30).
Kohli went on to claim that the current side is more comfortable than the one which toured South Africa in 2013. He even said that the team knows how to win a game now, perhaps taking a dig at the MS Dhoni-led side.
“But right now the team is very comfortable with where we stand, individually as our personal skill-sets, plus as a team – we know exactly what we need to do if we need to bounce back from a certain situation, how we need to do it, or if we want to create chances, how we need to create them. I think there is a sense of intelligence and awareness that has crept in in the last four years and that provides the excitement that we’re talking about. We know exactly what we need to do come game time on January 5. It’s not like we’re going to go out there and explore.. let’s see what happens. We’re not in that frame of mind. We know how to win Test matches now and that’s very good habit and knowledge to have, and we’re just preparing the best to execute those skill-sets again,” he said.
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