India vs South Africa 2019: Can du Plessis replicate Alastair Cook's heroics of 2012 in the ongoing series?
In the winter of 2012, something interesting happened when the England cricket team toured India for a four-match Test series. It was the last time India lost a Test series at home and ever since then no one has even come close to beating them on their home soil as they look forward to consolidate on their hugely-impressive home record in the ongoing series against the Proteas.
While the spin bowlers Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar played a crucial role in helping England achieve a famous series win over India in India, it was their captain, Alastair Cook, who had the lion’s share in their magnificent triumph.
Cook took over the English captaincy from Andrew Strauss after the latter retired from international cricket following a home series loss against South Africa in the summer of 2012 and the tour to India in November later that year was Cook’s first assignment as the English captain in Tests.
While Cook was brilliant as the skipper of the side, he was exceptional as a batsman as he amassed 562 runs from four Tests, leading his side to a brilliant 2-1 series win in India. With a series batting average of 80.28 and 3 hundreds against his name on those rank turners in India, ‘Chef’ had made the series his own and his heroics in India in 2012 will go down as one of the most dominant performances ever recorded by a batsman of non-Asian origin in subcontinent conditions.
Currently, India’s Test series against South Africa is underway at Vishakhapatnam and the touring South African team is being led by the experienced batsman, Faf du Plessis.
With the retirements of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, the responsibility of South Africa’s batting would majorly fall on the shoulders of their captain Du Plessis, the opener Dean Elgar and wicket-keeper bat Quinton De Kock.
Du Plessis is not only the most senior batsman of the side, but also the best batsman of current Proteas team. With a huge responsibility that he has to shoulder in the series against India, can the skipper Du Plessis imitate Alastair Cook’s heroics of 2012 to deliver some of his best batting performances ever in the ongoing series in India?
His past record in Asia and especially the one in India is not encouraging. In his last and only Test series in India in 2015, du Plessis recorded a meagre 60 runs from as many as 4 Tests and his batting average of 22.38 in 13 Tests so far in Asia is significantly lower as compared to his overall career average of 42.95.
However, with the likes of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, the two of best players of spin no longer available for South Africa, the onus is now on the skipper du Plessis to step up his game in order to lead South Africa’s batting in India as they hope to find some answers in what appears to their biggest litmus test in recent times.
Du Plessis would hope to learn from his mistakes of 2015 so as to make amends in his technique and attitude in a bid to succeed on the Indian shores. His recent participation in a first- class game for Kent against Yorkshire at Leeds is an indication that the South African skipper is determined to turn his fortunes this time around.
However, said that, can Du Plessis and Co. combat India on the latter’s home soil or will India keep on piling success at home, imposing misery on opposition teams? It is however, clear that the skipper needs to bat out of his skin in this extremely difficult assignment in order for the South Africans to salvage something.
It would be fascinating to witness how the story of the ongoing India-South Africa Test series unfolds!