From 2017-18 SA Tour to 2021-22 SA Tour – How has it been for India in this cycle

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India will end the year 2021 at the top of the table in ICC Test rankings.No doubt the Men in Blue have recreated their performance with the white and the red ball in the past few years. What stands tall is that the Virat Kohli-led side has been invincible in foreign tours dominating strong opposition like England and Australia.

The change in the mindset began from the last tour of South Africa in the 2017-18 season. India though lost the series 2-1 but the performance and grit of the Indian side left the cricket pundits awestruck. India won the last match in Centurion, by far the toughest track on that series where Hardik Pandya starred to bring India an iconic victory.

India face the English

The next foreign trip was to England, the country credited with the invention of the beautiful game. The series was a disappointing 1-4 defeat for the camp but had a lot of positive for Kohli and his men. Kohli got past his horrors of the 2014 series and went on to be the Player of the Series with 593 runs in 10 innings including 2 magnificent hundred.

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India and its glory down Under

With 2 defeats in 2 abroad tours that year, India ended the year to tour their new arch-rivals Australia in their backyard. Australia once a side impossible to defeat, was more like a dilapidated fort with their top 2 batters Steve Smith and David Warner banned due to the infamous Sandpapergate scandal. Yet it was never going to be easy against the Aussies in their own backyard.

India had never won a series in Down Under ever in history and the series was a perfect opportunity to relib=ve the dream. Pujara stood up to the expectations and was the man who made the difference in that series. Both the team had mighty bowling attacks yet Kohli’men bettered the Kangaroos securing a historic 2-1 win.

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2-0 against the West Indies, 0-2 against the Kiwis

India next traveled to the Caribbean in the month of August. The West Indies series was a much easier assignment for Kohli and his troops and as it turned out, India thrashed the Holder-led side by 2-0. Bumrah’s rage well assisted by Shami and Ishant sealed the deal for India. The pace batter earned its deserved reputation being probably the best set of fast bowlers playing for India ever in Tests.

India’s tour of New Zealand did not go well as the Kiwi seamers were unstoppable on their home soil. The Kiwis no doubt the dark horses of cricket are never a side easy to tackle and they once again proved it. India lost the series 0-2.

Pandemic 2020

India resumed its foreign tours by the end of December 2020 after the pandemic disrupted the game. India was once again playing in the other hemisphere against the Aussies. The team after their previous victory had a lot at stake this time. The Australian team had Warner and Smith back in the squads and India had to manifest that the win back in 2019 was no miracle.

Furthermore, India did not have the services of Kohli after the 1st Test as he left for India due to paternity issues. India was bossed over by the hosts in the pink-ball Test after facing an embarrassing letdown of being all out for 36 in the 1st innings. What followed was a sensational comeback from Rahane and his troops completely demolishing Australia’s hopes to lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India won the series 2-1.

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India in the inaugural WTC final : From favourites to being runners-up

The WTC final between India and New Zealand at the Mecca of cricket was no short of a spectacle. However, Kohli failed to lift an ICC trophy as a captain as the Kiwis were the better side in the rain-affected encounter.

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Revenge against England in Engalnd

The disappointment at Lords raised questions about whether India is a side that can consistently win matches in overseas conditions. The final was followed by another series in the English soil where the team was up against Joe Root’s England Team. India silenced its critics by displaying great spirit and determination in the tough English conditions leading the series 2-1. The last match of the tour was postponed to July 2022 after a covid scare in the Indian dressing room.

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SA Tour and the future ahead: What’s next for Kohli and Co.?

India once again is set to be on a trip to the rainbow nation. As it comes to a full circle for the Indian dressing room, how the team steps on the new fresh seasons where they combat against post-Covid complications. Kohli and his army will be in action from December 26 in Centurion for the 1st Test of the significant Freedom Series.

India’s Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj. 

South Africa’s Test squad: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier. 

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