Virat Kohli's team is capable of winning the Test series in South Africa, says Irfan Pathan
India have never won a Test series on South African soil thus far.
What's the story?
Impressed by the irrepressible recent form of the Indian team, erstwhile all-rounder Irfan Pathan has backed Virat Kohli's troops to create history by winning their upcoming Test series in South Africa. Hoping for seam-friendly pitches, the left-armer opined that the Indian pace attack have the collective ability to hit the Proteas hard.
"I really hope that (India winning a Test series in South Africa) happens. I was part of the team that won a Test match in South Africa, in Johannesburg. Virat's (Kohli) team is very (much) capable of winning a series in South Africa. They can create problems for the South Africans. If South Africa make bowling friendly pitches, I think the Indian bowlers will do really well", Irfan told NDTV.
Be it Tests or ODIs, India have never won a series (comprising of two or more matches) of any kind in South Africa. In fact, no Asian team has managed to win a Test series on South African soil. While India and Pakistan have won two Tests apiece in the country, Sri Lanka has emerged victorious in only one match in the traditional format of the game.
The heart of the matter
India have played six Test series (of varying proportion) in South Africa thus far. Their best result in the Rainbow Nation has been the 1-1 drawn series in the 2010/11 season. During their previous Test series on South African soil in 2013, they drew a thrilling match in Johannesburg and lost by ten wickets in Durban.
Four years since then, the Indian Test team has gone from strength to strength to establish their dominance at the top of the rankings table. Under Kohli's attacking captaincy, they are on a hot streak of eight consecutive series victories (including the one-off game against Bangladesh in Hyderabad) in the premier format. Consequently, India have amassed as many as 125 rating points (as of 22nd November) and created a 14-point difference between them and the second-placed South African side.
India are currently involved in a Test series at home against Sri Lanka. The second match is set to begin in Nagpur on Friday. The third match is slated to take place in Delhi between December 2 and 6 following which the two teams will play 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is in the same month.
India will start their tour of South Africa with a two-day warm-up match at Boland Park in Paarl on December 30 and 31. The first Test is scheduled to begin on January 5 in Cape Town. The second and third matches will take place in Centurion and Johannesburg respectively.
Even though India have been virtually unstoppable in recent times, they are likely to encounter challenging conditions in South Africa. With the likes of Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers expected to return to action, Kohli's troops will have to be at their very best in order to mount a strong challenge against the Proteas at their own den.