IND vs SA: Kohli and Co. ready to pounce on pitiable Proteas

Despite the series being sealed, with 40 points in the World Test Championship up for grabs, it can be taken for granted India will be waiting to pounce on the pitiable Proteas.

India has set a new world record of most consecutive series wins at home with this victory. Since 2013, the host has won 11 test series on the trot.   -  PTI

Lions at home, lambs abroad.

That was the tagline accorded to the Men in Whites when Virat Kohli took over the reins of India’s Test troupes following Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sudden retirement from Test cricket in Australia at the fag end of 2014.

Five years down the line, Kohli’s cavaliers have not only bolstered their reputation of being invincible at home - as was evident during the brutal assault on South Africa during the second Test here - but have also been much more competitive - if not successful - on the road than their predecessors.

With the captain-coach combo of Kohli and Ravi Shastri at the helm for a majority of the last five years, the duo has been able to extract the group as a unit to help cement India’s reputation as the No. 1 Test side.

After decimating South Africa by an innings and 137 runs to seal the series with more than a day to spare, Kohli revealed the key for the team’s success. “The good thing is when we started out as a group, we were at No. 7 (in Test ranking), and the only way was up. We laid down a few things saying that if you want to take Indian cricket forward, these are the things expected of each one of us; work hard every day at practice, don't come here and waste your time, contribute even at practice sessions, have a purposeful practice session and slowly those things will come into results,” Kohli said at the post-match presser.

“We are all lucky to have the group of players that we have, to be honest. In the last three-four years, the bunch of guys have been amazing, those 20 players have been playing in and out, and it's just amazing to see that hunger and that passion to keep improving. ”

No doubt the constant chopping and changing the combination - India hasn’t retained the same XI in a majority of Kohli’s 50 Tests as captain so far - hasn’t resulted in every individual responding positively. The kind of insecurity that’s arisen out of this policy has seen certain individuals losing their place as a result. A few others, especially specialist batsmen, were forced to change technique and approach in quest of “intent”  expected of them.

But those with grit, gumption and obviously primary skill-sets have managed to leave the setbacks and emerge as true champions. R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav have all been unfairly dropped from the team at some point over the last two years. But the triumvirate ensured Kohli’s sterling double hundred was backed by handy contributions to ensure India sealed its 11th straight series at home in style.

With the bowlers folding up South Africa twice in less than two days’, India’s men have got an additional day’s break. It has resulted in virtually all the squad members - barring a couple of Test specialists - going back home for three nights before reassembling in Ranchi on Thursday. Despite the series being sealed, with 40 points in the World Test Championship up for grabs, it can be taken for granted they will be waiting to pounce on a pitiable Proteas unit as they have been over the last fortnight.