2021 will go down as one of India’s best years in Test cricket: Duminy

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31 Dec 2021 | 04:53 AM
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2021 will go down as one of India’s best years in Test cricket: Duminy

The former South African allrounder was impressed with the way KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal batted in the first innings

Former South African allrounder JP Duminy heaped heavy praise on Virat Kohli and Co. who had a fantastic 2021, especially in red-ball cricket. India started the year with an impressive escape in Sydney and then became the first team in 32 years to defeat Australia at the Gabba. They also managed to pull off two stunning victories in England before the final Test of the five-match series was postponed. And, on top of that, India ended the year with becoming the first Asian team to win a Test in Centurion. 

“We have to acknowledge that this will go down as one of India’s best years in international cricket, particularly in Test cricket. They have put a lot of work behind the scenes, especially the kinds of performances they have put out in overseas Tests. They have always been a formidable unit at home but the way they have remodeled themselves when it comes to the conditions outside India, it’s incredible. It’s really paying dividends. One can talk about the influence of IPL, playing with players from different nations, that will have some sort of impact, but also how the batters have approached in challenging conditions,” Duminy told Cricket.com.

India won the first Test by 113 runs and it was KL Rahul (123) and Mayank Agarwal (60) who put them in a commanding position on the very first day of the game. The two openers from Karnataka put on 117 runs for the first wicket and helped India post a challenging first-innings total of 327. In reply, South Africa were bundled out for 197, giving the visitors a match-defining 130-run lead. India set South Africa a 305-run target in the fourth innings and the hosts could only manage 191. 

“The way Rahul and Agarwal started, it set the tone perfectly. You think about these conditions, you think about batting first and it’s no doubt it was the right decision at this venue. The discipline and technical ability Agarwal and Rahul showed on day one was the most impressive showing. All credit to the way India started this series. They were confident and it’s not easy to bat first as there is always something on offer on day one but South Africa couldn’t capitalise on it,” said Duminy. 

“It would be an easy thing to say that it was because of the lack of discipline from the South African bowling attack but I don’t want to take the shine away from how well those two played. Yes, they pounced on those bad deliveries, which is expected of top-order batters, but trusting your strong defence in these conditions was very impressive. They are very good friends and they do form a solid partnership. They encourage each other because we know Test cricket comes with high-pressure moments and sometimes you need your partner to be with you and encourage you. And, that hunger to do well in overseas conditions, we are seeing that a lot, especially from KL Rahul. And, Mayank Agarwal is feeding off that energy as well.”

Once the batting unit did their job, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj took over and dismantled South Africa in both innings. The trio shared 16 wickets between them and also got decent support from Shardul Thakur and R Ashwin. “The biggest benefit for India right now is the back-up they have in the fast-bowling department. There’s a huge amount of trust in the ability and understanding of what needs to be done in particular conditions. In the past, Asian touring teams have struggled, but this time around, there’s not a lot of bad deliveries being bowled and they are asking the right questions all the time. The three frontline seamers were also beautifully backed up by Ashwin and Thakur.”

The likes of Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma did put up some fight but Duminy wants South Africa to work more in their batting department. “The history tells you that if you are getting anywhere near 300 in the first innings in Centurion, you give yourself a good chance. Then the way South Africa played in their first innings, that’s one area where they will have a proper discussion about. With the amount of success South Africa have had at this venue over the years, getting a big score in the first innings was always the big focus. 

“It does get difficult when you get to day three and four here. India got 327 in the first innings and South Africa were mediocre with the ball on day one. Yes, they haven’t played Test cricket for six months, but going into the series, I want to see a much better performance from the batting perspective.”

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South Africa vs IndiaIndia tour of South Africa, 2021/22South AfricaIndiaJP DuminyKL Rahul

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