Former India cricketer Reetinder Singh Sodhi has stated that the upcoming tour of South Africa will be a big test for the national team and for the head coach Rahul Dravid. He added that Dravid has a huge responsibility to uplift the national squad from the recent controversies in Indian cricket.
After claiming resounding T20I and Test series victories against New Zealand at home, India are scheduled to face South Africa in three away Tests, and as many ODIs from December 26. The trip will begin with the first Test of the three-match series on December 26 in Centurion. Team India will be eyeing their first Test series victory in South Africa, and the pace attack of the Proteas will be a major challenge to the Virat Kohli-led side.
India's tour of South Africa will be Rahul Dravid’s first overseas assignment after taking over the full-time head coach role from Ravi Shastri. The last time when India toured the rainbow nation for a three-match Test series, the Virat Kohli-led side suffered a 2-1 loss against the Proteas. However, Team India are heading to South Africa with great confidence, after having thrashed New Zealand in the second Test in Mumbai earlier this month to take the two-match series 1-0.
Meanwhile, former Indian cricketer, Reetinder Singh Sodhi has reckoned that the India tour of South Africa will be a big Test for Dravid as the head coach. However, Sodhi was hopeful that the current lot under Dravid’s guidance is strong enough to defeat South Africa at their home.
"We have done well in the home series but now is the acid test. If Rahul can get his team to do well here, the great respect he has in the entire world as a player, it will grow a lot as a coach also. So yes, a big test for Team India and a very big Test for Rahul Dravid," Sodhi told India News.
"The sort of team we have and the way Rahul Dravid encourages them, the way he is balanced, I feel India will definitely hand a big defeat to South Africa in their own backyard."
After announcing the 18-member Test squad for the South Africa tour, the BCCI sacked Virat Kohli from the ODI captaincy, and appointed Rohit Sharma as India’s leader for the ODI format. Earlier, Rohit had succeeded Kohli as the T20I captain after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup 2021. The BCCI also named Rohit as Kohli’s deputy in Test cricket, but the former was ruled out from the red-ball series against South Africa after he sustained a hamstring injury.
However, soon after BCCI made the surprising announcement, the fans and experts erupted on social media, and engaged in fuming debates over the captaincy-change decision. Several media houses suggested that there is a rift between Kohli and Rohit. However, Kohli made clear that everything is fine between him and the Indian opener. Kohli’s comments also contradicted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s statement on the captaincy change.
Sodhi stated that Dravid has a great responsibility to uplift the national squad from the recent controversies going around.
"He has a bigger challenge because of the recent controversies that have happened, to uplift the team after that. It is an acid test for Rahul Dravid. If we talk about Rohit and Virat, to make them stand together and get the partnership back, if there is a difference of opinion between them, so Rahul will be addressing that first," Sodhi said.
"And this tour which will be in different conditions, how our batters excel in South Africa. South Africa have a good bowling lineup and Rahul Dravid will have to work a lot there."