Opinion: Mentally super tough, Virat's team is hungry to win
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Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Jan 05, 2018, 10.05 AM
Indian cricket teams of the past have had rather unforgettable experiences on their visits to South Africa over the last many decades. In fact, since 1992, when India played their first ever Test match there, they have managed just two Test victories thus far. Despite having greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly in the ranks, Team India has always found it difficult to upstage South Africa in their own den.
Now, as the first of the three-match series between India and South Africa is all set to commence at Cape Town, Indian fans fear the worst again.
However, if one has followed Indian cricket closely over the last few months, they would know that this Indian unit is not the same as the ones from the past. There is something different about this Indian team.
The mental toughness game
The build-up to this series has been intriguing. Team India has received a lot of flak for not spending adequate time in South Africa before the first Test. Then, South African captain Faf du Plessis himself has indicated that they have a “score to settle” with India.
Ideally, these situations might have been overwhelming for a visiting Indian side. But Virat Kohli’s men are made of different mettle.
Ever since Kohli has taken the reins of the team from late 2014 in Australia, he has infused his energy, fearlessness and undaunted approach among the other players. This team does not the hold the scars from the many defeats of the past. This team does not reek of any negativity. They are mentally very tough, know how to play fire with fire and do not get bogged down with big names.
Yes, India will have to cope with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and AB de Villiers. But mentally this team is very strong now. Not for nothing are they ranked the No.1 Test team in the world.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay and Kohli himself form the crux of the Indian batting unit and are all proven batting powerhouses who will not buckle easily.
India’s bowling, meanwhile, is probably the strongest ever to have toured South Africa. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin have been India’s best bowlers in the Test format in the recent past and one can expect them to make a huge difference this time around with the experience they have had.
Never say die attitude
While in terms of skill and form India is very good, what gives this team better chances at success on the tour to South Africa is no fear of failure. They are hungry to succeed and have tremendous belief in each others’ abilities. Virat Kohli’s incredible mental toughness has rubbed off on the players and the coach Ravi Shastri has further helped in establishing a culture of positive intent and never say die attitude.
Both Kohli and Shastri have been vehemently voicing their desire for Test victories overseas for some time now. And there is no doubt that they have building the team for precisely that in these past many months.
The time is here and the time is now. This will be the greatest challenge Team India has faced in a long time and even though the opposition is formidable, the kind of talent India has in its ranks, along with the self-assurance and positive intent they have exhibited recently, makes one believe that they have a real chance for a historic series win this time.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).