India’s recent performance in overseas Test series, particularly the ongoing series in South Africa, has raised questions about the team’s ability to conquer the so-called “Final Frontier.” The team’s limitations and poor recent away record in demanding conditions have come under scrutiny, especially after a disappointing display in the Centurion Test.
The term “Final Frontier” has often been associated with India’s quest to win their first-ever Test series in South Africa. However, the recent meek capitulation in the Centurion Test has raised doubts about the team’s readiness for such challenges. Despite attractive taglines from broadcasters, the reality seems far from conquering the final frontier.
India’s struggles are not limited to South Africa. Over the last 20 Tests played in New Zealand, India has managed only one win, in Hamilton in 2009. None of the current Test team players were part of that victorious team. Subsequent tours to New Zealand have resulted in losses, emphasizing the team’s difficulties away from home.
While the current Indian team has secured successive home-and-away series wins against Australia, Bangladesh, and West Indies, challenges persist in conditions like those in South Africa, England, and New Zealand. The batting unit, in particular, faced criticism for its inability to cope with the challenging conditions, as witnessed in the Centurion Test.
The recent overseas successes for India were marked by qualities such as quality pace bowling, effective captaincy
(Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy during Virat Kohli’s absence in Australia in 2020-21), Rishabh Pant’s aggressive batting, and resilient partnerships like the one between Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin in Sydney.
Issues within India’s leadership group, including changes in captaincy and rest rotations due to a busy schedule of white-ball bilateral series, have also been highlighted. The absence of key players, like Mohammed Shami in the first Test against South Africa, has impacted the team’s performance.
Winning a Test series in challenging conditions involves a combination of skills, mental toughness, bowling artistry, and defensive batting techniques. India’s recent struggles have brought attention to the need for improvement in various aspects to conquer the elusive “Final Frontier.”