Virat Kohli’s Team India can pat themselves on the back for ending the 25-year-old South Africa jinx.
India’s maiden limited-overs series triumph is a most impressive performance. The South Africans haven’t lost a home ODI series to any team besides Australia (twice). They may have picked up notoriety for choking in key World Cup games and other high-profile contests, but in ODI cricket at home they’ve been far less vulnerable, due mostly to the high intensity of their pace attack and their electric fielding. Virat Kohli’s Team India can pat themselves on the back for ending the 25-year-old South Africa jinx. Considering they were down and out, beaten in the first two Tests and thus the series, Kohli’s men staged a remarkable fightback. They had to correct a few early selection blunders that cost them the crucial second Test, but blossomed to seal their claim as the world’s top ODI side.
A fiercely competitive spirit, honed under a skipper who may wear his emotions on his sleeve but plays the game with unbelievable intensity, helped. True to tradition, our spinners struck gold, bemusing South Africans with wrist spin that has the decisive advantage of turning the ball both ways. The Indian pace combination, the best by far in years in both formats, once again pulled its weight while lending the team the balance needed for ODIs. The Indian women under Mithali Raj scored a rare triumph in South Africa too, winning the ODI series even before the men, but this didn’t draw much attention. The Under-19 boys performed splendidly in winning their World Cup in emphatic style. The cricket scene presents a sanguine picture now — of talent having been found, and which blossomed into consistent performances.