Centurion, Dec 31 (IANS) Former South Africa all-rounder JP Duminy stated that one has to acknowledge that 2021 will be known as one of the years for India, especially in Test cricket. He also credited KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal for setting up India's 113-run win at SuperSport Park on Thursday with the first-innings opening partnership of 117.
India in Test cricket began 2021 with a heist of a draw in Sydney followed by breaching the Gabba fortress to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the second straight time in Australia. In England, India notched up Test wins in Lord's and The Oval before the Manchester Test was postponed due to fears of COVID-19 outbreak in the camp.
At home, India won series against England (3-1) and New Zealand (1-0) before signing off from the year with a maiden Test win in Centurion. The only sore point for India was losing the World Test Championship final to New Zealand in Southampton.
"We have to acknowledge that this will go down as one of India's best years in international cricket, particularly in Test cricket. They have put a lot of work behind the scenes, especially the kinds of performances they have put out in overseas Tests. They have always been a formidable unit at home but the way they have remodelled themselves when it comes to the conditions outside India, it's incredible. It's really paying dividends. One can talk about the influence of IPL, playing with players from different nations, that will have some sort of impact, but also how the batters have approached in challenging conditions," Duminy was quoted as saying by Cricket.com.
Talking about the partnership from Agarwal (60) and Rahul (123) in the first innings, which eventually turned out to be the difference between the two teams, Duminy remarked, "The way Rahul and Agarwal started, it set the tone perfectly. You think about these conditions, you think about batting first and it's no doubt it was the right decision at this venue.
"The discipline and technical ability Agarwal and Rahul showed on day one was the most impressive showing. All credit to the way India started this series."
Duminy further praised Rahul and Agarwal's efforts against a South Africa bowling attack which didn't take advantage of home conditions.
"They were confident and it's not easy to bat first as there is always something on offer on day one but South Africa couldn't capitalise on it. It would be an easy thing to say that it was because of the lack of discipline from the South African bowling attack but I don't want to take the shine away from how well those two played."
The 37-year-old pointed out that the Karnataka duo's friendship off the field is helping them do well in Test cricket.
"Yes, they pounced on those bad deliveries, which is expected of top-order batters, but trusting your strong defence in these conditions was very impressive. They are very good friends and they do form a solid partnership. They encourage each other because we know Test cricket comes with high-pressure moments and sometimes you need your partner to be with you and encourage you.
"And, that hunger to do well in overseas conditions, we are seeing that a lot, especially from KL Rahul. And, Mayank Agarwal is feeding off that energy as well."