Forgettable African Safari for Indian cricket

India started 2022 on a dull note with an underwhelming show on the crucial South Africa tour. After losing the Test series, the Men in Blue were hammered by the hosts in the 50-over series. KL Rahul, who led the team in absence of Rohit Sharma, failed to inspire India against a young South African unit that put up a collective performance in home conditions.
The signs were ominous even before they departed with now-former Test skipper Virat Kohli’s much-publicised acrimony with top BCCI officials. The entire episode didn’t leave the team in good stead and once there it all went haywire after the opening Test win.
Last Wednesday, Paarl witnessed one of the weirdest days in Indian cricket history. It was the official passing of the baton – the first time since 2014 that Virat Kohli stepped onto the playing field without a leadership role in any format.
Stand-in ODI captain KL Rahul was then left to do a lot with too little at his disposal against an opposition, which had gained invaluable confidence.
In the backdrop of Kohli’s departure as captain from all formats, India, under KL Rahul, were blanked 0-3 in the ODIs to cap a forgettable tour to South Africa.
India had earlier suffered back-to-back defeats in Wanderers and Cape Town to lose the Test series 1-2. At the end of that series, Kohli stepped down from captaincy in the longest format, marking the end of an era in Indian cricket.

Indian cricket: Change in guard

Keeping in mind the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, India have a packed white-ball calendar and will be hosting West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa this year.
With IPL being a 10-team affair this time, the home season would stretch till June before the Indians leave for England to play the final Test of a series that was halted midway last year due to a COVID-19 outbreak, followed by three T20Is and as many ODIs.
The last T20 World Cup in the UAE was the seventh consecutive world event in which India failed to win the crown — the others being the 2014 T20 World Cup final, 2015 ODI World Cup semi-final, 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal, 2017 Champions Trophy Final, 2019 World Cup semifinal, and the 2021 World Test Championships Final.
The Indian team will do well to learn from the mistakes committed in South Africa and build a strong squad, identify the roles of the players and give them more time to settle down if they are to become a serious contender in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in India.

Indian cricket: The future

Looking deeply into the series that just went by, some of the individual irresponsible acts in the series included Rishabh Pant’s shots, both in Tests and ODIs. And, Pant gets away with such irresponsible acts with even the team management backing him by saying, “that is how he plays”. But this act of throwing it away, especially when given the responsibility of batting at No. 4 in the ODIs and having plenty of overs to guide the team through, is not a good sign for Indian cricket.
When Virat Kohli and Co. touched down in Johannesburg on December 16, all the talk was about conquering the final frontier. It began on expected terms as they won a Test in Centurion for the very first time.
But as the year turned, things went from being hunky-dory to humiliating. They lost the next two Tests by huge margins of seven wickets each, and couldn’t quite recover for the white-ball leg too.
Head coach Rahul Dravid made no bones about the tourists’ disappointing performance, stating that the three-match ODI series will help dictate terms in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup. He seemed determined to use the upcoming white-ball series to plug the holes which were badly exposed in the Rainbow Nation.