It’s almost D-day. India’s long, successful home season comes to an end and the ‘away’ season begins with a tour of South Africa – a country where India has yet to taste series success in over 25 years of touring.
In simple terms that translates into a record of 2 wins, 8 losses and 7 draws in 17 Tests. In recent years, India’s performances have got better but the series win continues to elude the side. Virat Kohli’s team seem to be better prepared but that doesn’t mean the challenge is going to be any lesser.
A look at the average numbers of various important parameters shows just what India are up against before the first Test begins at Cape Town on January 5:
However, it is perhaps even more interesting to look at not just how South Africa perform at home but also how Australia, the only touring side to have a positive record in SA, do along the same parameters.
A big change is the numbers that the openers put up on an average. It means that Australia do not succumb to the early pressure and India will need to do the same.
Australia’s method has been to usually be aggressive but many of their numbers are boosted by the fact that their sides to tour South Africa in the early years were often regarded as the best in history.
The bowlers, not just pacers but spinners too, have been an integral part of their success as well. It may come down to Aussie bowlers adapting to the conditions much better (partly because they are similar to home). But India’s bowlers will also have to find a way to replicate their ‘home’ performances in South Africa.
Still, numbers are only half the story. At the end of the day, the Indian team will look to start on a fresh note. They will look to play each ball on it’s merit but the numbers above only point to their failings in the past. They are but markers; areas that India need to improve on.
If they do that, who knows, the elusive series win might be there for the taking.