Kohli's boys: tested and found winners

Kohli's boys: tested and found winners

India ended their tour of South Africa on a successful note, unlike the way it had begun in early January. In winning the ODIs (5-1) and T20Is (2-1), Virat Kohli and company created history by becoming the first Indian team to win a series in any format on South African soil. What is disappointing, however, is that they missed out on a massive opportunity to win the Test series as well. India arrived in South Africa as the No 1-ranked Test side, and though history weighed heavily against them, there was genuine expectation of them winning their maiden Test series in the Rainbow nation. These hopes were largely because of the quality in their bowling attack. Unlike their previous six visits to the country, this time they had the quantity, quality and variety to exploit the conditions and they did so, too, claiming all 60 South African wickets (including three run-outs) over the three Tests. But their strongest point over the years - batting - came unstuck. What compounded Team India's problem were a couple of dubious selections that were questioned by the television pundits and the media alike. By the time they got their choices right for the final Test in Johannesburg and put up a valiant show to pull off a famous win on a spiteful pitch, it was too late.

The Test series also brought to focus Kohli's captaincy skills when put under pressure. While perfection in any sphere of life is a mirage, Kohli's handling of certain phases, both on and off the field, showed he still has a long way to go before he can be considered among the best. On a personal note though, Kohli came out of the tour with his batting credentials further enhanced. He was the top run-scorer from either side in both Tests and ODIs, and with his T20 runs included, the right-hander accumulated 871 runs - the highest in a bilateral series by a captain across all formats.

Much of the credit for the success of the wrist-spin pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who claimed 33 wickets between them in the ODIs, should go to Kohli. The presence of two wrist spinners has provided Indian bowling a dynamic dimension. Their ability to take wickets on any surface augurs well for India going forward, especially keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup (50 overs), which will be hosted by England. The limited-overs part of the series also highlighted the middle-order frailty and the need to begin the process of finding a replacement for MS Dhoni whose blow hot, blow cold batting can't be relied upon for too long now.  

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