Virat Kohli and his Indian cricket colleagues visit South Africa this winter and it will undoubtedly be a different experience following the announcement confirming that all the games will be played behind closed doors.
Times of India confirmed it was a combined decision between Cricket South Africa and the Board of Control for Cricket in India to play in the empty stadiums, due to the ongoing wave of Covid-19 that is sweeping the nation. Both parties are in agreement that it was necessary for the health and safety of everyone involved. The news broke just as the Indian squad were packing their bags to head across into Africa in preparation for their month-long tour, which sees the teams meet in three tests and three one-day games, with the first getting underway in December.
Although three individual test victories have gone the way of the visitors, India is yet take a series win against the Proteas on their pitch. But with Kohli and co in fine form, allied to the fact that the home side will be without their vociferous support, it could just swing things the way of India who are many people’s pick for success. They are marginal favourites for the series in
the current Ladbrokes cricket odds, which is due to start on December 26th at Centurion Park. Following their recent test series victory over the second-ranked test team in world cricket, New Zealand, confidence is high in the squad. If India were to taste victory in the first test to set up a potential successful series, it would round out what has been a fantastic calendar year in cricket.
Australia was the first side put to the sword in 2021 as India came from one test down in January, winning the final two tests to take a 2-1 series win. A doubleheader against England followed, and Joe Root’s side was despatched too. First on Indian soil, then in England, in the 50th anniversary year of India’s first-ever series win over there. A 2-1 success brought another series victory on the same pitch at The Oval as the game in 1971. These all came before the earlier win over New Zealand, so it’s easy to see why India are the favourites to finish 2021 in style.
There are hopes that Ajinkya Rahane will rediscover his form in South Africa after an indifferent period with the bat. Still, he’s not the only player focussed upon, as Cheteshwar Pujara is under similar scrutiny. Rahane is averaging just 19.57 this year whilst Pujara only fared a little better with 29.8, and reports on the Indian Express suggest it could be their last chance to shine before being replaced.
Although captain, Kohli hasn’t particularly been outstanding at the crease this year either. He will, of course, be able to solely focus on his first test tour in South Africa since deciding to hang up his boots in the one day game. Hopefully, that will be the extra firepower in the Indian armoury to help them take that elusive first series victory.