After the 3-0 win over South Africa, India, under Virat Kohli, have been unbeaten at home for four years. Barring the odd instance of a Steve Smith-fuelled Australian resistance in 2017, no side has come even remotely close to arresting his stupendous streak that now reads thus: Played: 24, Won: 18, Lost: 1.
Beating India in India has always been daunting. Only four teams have achieved the feat in the last 32 years. It remains world cricket’s final frontier, as Steve Waugh famously said. But few Indian sides have made those defeats routinely clinical like Kohli’s.
In this series, the seamers accounted for exactly half of the South African wickets, a rarity in Asia. Kohli’s India has a fine collection of bowlers, so well-stocked, versatile and skilled that they take the pitch out of the equation, literally and metaphorically. Kohli can unleash any one of his many prize-horses to hit the jackpot.
And this series was achieved with his best bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, injured. He wasn’t missed, as Kohli let loose pacer Umesh Yadav, who ended up picking 10 wickets at less than 15 runs. With left-arm spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, injured, Kohli summoned debutant Shahbaz Nadeem. He nailed three and had the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi swooning.
He couldn’t find good openers. No problem. In stepped Rohit Sharma. It is as if some unnatural force is picking the pieces for Kohli.
That’s the sparkle of invincibility radiating from Kohli’s men. Kohli has fitted in the daredevil nuts and bolts into the team while extinguishing the mortal character flaws; the careless habit of losing winnable matches. It brooks no argument that Kohli’s is the most dominant Indian team ever at home.
If they could conquer a few more shores abroad — it’s the most opportune time with most sides either rebuilding or transitioning or both — we could be watching the best side yet. It would be heartbreaking if Kohli’s men stop short of the peak.