TOUR POST-MORTEM | Five steps forward for Proteas, but tough Tests lie ahead

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The Proteas celebrate (Gallo)
The Proteas celebrate (Gallo)

  • The Proteas have started 2022 with unbelievable successes against India in red and white ball cricket.
  • The true measure of SA's success will be seen in how they take this momentum forward through the year.
  • New Zealand is South Africa's next Test target and will provide an idea of where the Proteas are, while they also need to get better in ODIs despite their success.

The desperation in Virat Kohli's voice and on his face on the third evening of the third Test at Newlands was writ large.

This was, at least, on paper, the weakest South African team to host India since 1992 and they were there for the taking.

However, the old adage of the game being played on an Oval with a 22-yard strip instead of social media and tree extracts proved true.

Such was the growing listlessness of the India team during the ODI series that South Africa won 3-0, it was hard to believe that the shoe was indeed on the other foot.

It's true that India, who were missing new ODI captain Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, left them with a lighter look, but their bench strength has seen them through tricky periods.

With a paucity of ODIs over the past two years, the Proteas haven't quite established a proper working order in the 50-over format.

It's a pity that this series was not part of the Men's ODI Super League where the points would have been beneficial to their cause.

However, a series win remains a series win nonetheless, especially after how India wiped the floor with South Africa the last time the teams met in South Africa in 2017/18.

The 5-1 deficit was as wide as the gulf between the teams. The Indians were streets ahead of South Africa at the time and things got worse for the Proteas.

They're still getting on the right track and as the ODI series showed, they're still a work in progress.

However, beating Australia and India by wide 3-0 margins remains a big deal, with only the need to repeat such successes in World Cup matches remaining.

The truth of the matter is that the Proteas will have to take this form one step further in their ODI League matches in order to qualify for the World Cup.

Bangladesh are far from easy opponents and so will England at home and India away. SA's form in Super League matches has been patchy, with no series wins against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Ireland, while the Netherlands series still needs to be completed.

But steps have been taken to look more than a decent side.

The same is applicable with the Test team, especially with the rough ride of the England Test series at home in the 2019/20 summer and the reverse against Pakistan a year later.

Wins against Sri Lanka and the West Indies were at best regulation ones, but the success against India in difficult conditions has sent out a message.

New Zealand, who are next on SA's list, will be wary despite their excellence, while the Proteas have also yet to lose a Test series in New Zealand.

Sterner examinations in England and Australia later this year await, while Bangladesh showed in New Zealand that they shouldn't be underestimated.

It's true that South Africa must take this Test series success against India and run with it, but the true measure of their development will be seen in how they tackle their away tasks.

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