#IndvsSA: Win proves Team Kohli has arrived

Debdutta Bhattacharjee
Debdutta BhattacharjeeNov 07, 2015 | 20:06

#IndvsSA: Win proves Team Kohli has arrived

When Ravindra Jadeja trapped Imran Tahir before the stumps to hand India the victory in the first Test against South Africa at Mohali on Saturday, for a moment, it was difficult to believe. Was this the same Indian team that the Proteas had ridden roughshod over in their tour so far? After Team India was overwhelmed in the T20 and ODI series, and especially after its abject surrender in the final match of the ODI series, who could have imagined that it could have fought back so well, the difference of the three formats notwithstanding?

A victory over the best Test team in the world, and that too in three days? The mighty South Africa skittled out for 109? Could it be true?

You bet it was and you have to give credit where it is due. It was the credit for the Indian team to take, which has shown that it has not forgotten how to fight and win a cricket match. Perhaps the Indian spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra found the Mohali pitch to their particular liking, but that is not taking any credit away from their abilities. Conditions can be favourable, but you still have to utilise them to your advantage.

So while Ashwin returned a five-for in South Africa's first innings, Jadeja achieved the feat in the Proteas' second innings. The way Jadeja bamboozled Faf Du Plessis or the dangerous Hashim Amla, both of whom were out without offering shots, and the way Amit Mishra beat the mighty AB De Villiers, were sights to behold. It was a celebration of the art of spin bowling and a reassurance that this art, on which India had always prided itself, was in safe hands. It was a reassurance that there were able players to take the legacy of Bedi-Prasanna-Chandrasekhar-Venkataraghavan and Kumble-Harbhajan forward.

This win must have been particularly sweet for Jadeja. People have, time and again, questioned his abilities and the opportunities he has been getting. But a "man of the match" performance, with eight wickets in the match, including a five-for, and a meaningful contribution with the bat in India's first innings, in a low-scoring contest, against an opposition no less than South Africa will silence the critics, at least for now. This performance will surely boost Jadeja's Test career, and the former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar thinks Jadeja is an ideal number seven for the Indian Test side. After India's emphatic victory, Gavaskar was effusive in Jadeja's praise, saying it was a smart move to have him in the team. The legend is right.

The victory on Saturday was a reiteration that the Virat Kohli-led Indian side, which had recently won a historic Test series in Sri Lanka, was ready to take on the world and come out on top. Granted that this was only the first match of the series and there is still a long way to go. But it can't be denied that by winning the first match of the series, Kohli's boys will have a firm advantage when they take the field for the second Test at Bengaluru.

It is also sure to add fuel to the debate on whether Kohli should be made the captain in all formats. Nothing succeeds like success and Kohli currently has been delivering results for the team, while the T20/ODI captain Dhoni's star is seen to be waning. There is a strong voice in favour of Kohli, which says that he is the future of Indian cricket and the sooner we acknowledge it is the better, but there is a moderating voice that asks if replacing Dhoni so close to the World T20 early next year would not only be improper, but a tactical blunder. Kohli may have to wait to take over the reins of the Indian side fully, but he is certainly the future of Indian cricket. 

The victory of Kohli and company over the mighty South Africans was enthusiastically applauded on Twitter, as these tweets prove:

This victory is proof of the coming of age of Team Kohli and indicates that good times await the Indian team at least in Test cricket. The margin of victory or who took how many wickets or scored how many runs are things for statisticians to ponder over, but what transcends mere statistics is the fact that the Indian players who were having a tough time after the T20/ODI series loss, on and off the field (ask Amit Mishra!) could defeat self-doubt and take charge of themselves and the result is for all to see. Let us enjoy the gift that Kohli and company have sent from Mohali to the fullest.

Last updated: February 28, 2016 | 10:31
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