India vs South Africa: Spin to win - How this mantra works for India and fails for touring sides
When opposition sides plan their series to India, they invariably go looking for spinners. There is this notion that in order to be successful in India, you need spinners, and while, this does hold true, the spinners need to more than just tweakers. And while the Indian spinners go about toppling the opponents, the opposition sides find it difficult to stamp any sort of control over the hosts. We have the numbers to prove the fact that India is the best and worst for the spinners.
These are the bare stats: Since 2016, visiting spinners in India have taken their wickets at 51.18 while the home spinners have been far more successful - they have collectively averaged 25.32 in Test matches at home.
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It needs to be mentioned here that host spinners, all over Asia, have always outbowled the tourists, but the gulf in the averages is not as stark as the numbers in India.
So, while Indian bowlers have been successful, the reason why overseas spinners have been less effective is because the pitches in India, barring the 2015 series against South Africa, have not been square turners. India were beaten at their own game in Pune against Australia in 2017 when Steve O’Keefe spun a web around them and barring this aberration, no other surface has been as conducive to spinners.
Virat Kohli speaks about his fast bowlers with chest puffed out and he has all the reason to be vocal about this crop - the pitches over the past three years have been competitive where all bowlers, irrespective of their speeds, have had opportunities to come to the fore.
The results in the ongoing series between India and South Africa too follow the same template - Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav have been as successful as R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. No one has taken the lead, and yet, no one has fallen behind. They are primarily complementing one another and as a pack, they have become Virat Kohli’s match-winners.