As much as the fact that they have completed a record 11th series victory at home, what must delight India is that their display in the two Tests against South Africa have been a complete team performance.
Every player has weighed in significantly, which is exactly what aside on top of the charts will expect.
India’s top-order was short on runs in the Caribbean, but the new opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal acquitted itself in spectacular fashion. In his first Test as an opener, Rohit produced two sublime centuries in Visakhapatnam, while it was great to see Agarwal translate his maiden century into a double ton and then back it up with another hundred in Pune.
After a lull by his standards, Virat Kohli thundered back among the big runs with a monumental double-hundred, another telling statement of his hunger and his fitness, while the rest of the batting unit more than held its own. In India, when the hosts win the toss and pile up a mountain of runs, it is difficult for even the more experienced sides to hold their own. South Africa, short on that commodity following the retirement of a slew of superstars, was completely blown away.
For the first time, we were exposed to the toothlessness of the South African bowling attack. Kagiso Rabada showcased his class in patches, but otherwise, there was a distinct lack of penetration, as evidenced by both the tall totals and the rate at which India piled them up.
One of the reasons for India’s excellent run over the last 18 months has been their incisiveness with the ball. On good Test pitches with no great help for the bowlers, the Indian attack was sensational.
Ravichandran Ashwin reiterated why he is the best spinner in the country, his control and mastery awe-inspiring, while Ravindra Jadeja’s shift in mindset from restrictive to wicket-taking is very obvious. The fast bowling group hustled the batsmen on slowish surfaces, which is a credit to their skills and fitness.
Personally, I am very happy for Wriddhiman Saha, who was coming off a long injury lay-off. His commitment is second to none, and the catches he snaffled in Pune were little short of breathtaking.
Though the series is in the bag, I expect no let-off from the Indians. Test Championship points are on offer, of course. But the world’s No. 1 team doesn’t need those extra incentives as it seeks to extend its unquestioned dominance.