It is not even close to being a month since the 2023 World Cup final and India are already gearing up for their second major tournament since that game. A number of those who played for India in that final and in the rest of the tournament, though, are yet to make a comeback to the field as they sat out their five-match T20I series against Australia.

Rohit and Kohli were the two highest run scorers in the 2023 World Cup(PTI)

In fact, captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are among the players who won’t be playing in the T20I or ODI series in South Africa during the upcoming tour, featuring only in the side that will be a two-match Test series at the end of it. They will be looking to bounce back from the crushing disappointment of losing the final by doing something historic – recording a first Test series win for India in South Africa.

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Former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has said that putting the disappointment of the final behind them would be a big challenge for the Indian players. India had gone into the title clash having not comfortably won all of the previous matches that they had played. Du Plessis compared the disappointment to what he and the Proteas felt when they lost to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup semi-final. South Africa, led by AB de Villiers, were one of the strongest teams in the tournament and boasted star names like Du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, David Miller Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir and Vernon Philander.

“That is a big challenge,” Faf du Plessis said on NDTV. “I remember going through a similar experience as a cricketer when we went through the highs and lows of the 2015 World Cup. The heartache that you have to deal with takes a bit of time and it is a bit like breaking up with a girlfriend. You cannot just get over it straight away.”

‘India were so amazing’

India had hardly ever been challenged throughout the tournament. Captain Rohit Sharma’s aggressive starts then allowed Virat Kohli to anchor the rest of the innings and the pair finished as the top two scorers of the tournament. Kohli even broke the record for must runs by any batter in a single World Cup and became the first in the men’s tournament’s history to score over 700 runs in one edition. Moreover, India’s bowling attack was on the money, particularly Mohammed Shami, who sat out the first four games and came in only when Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with an injury.

“India were so amazing in the way they played in this World Cup,” the former Proteas skipper added. “They were unbelievable the way they went about their business. They will be feeling in a similar way and they will be heartbroken. That was their World Cup to win.

“That will take a bit of time and time heals everything. Your first series back feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. Obviously there are so quality players there and some experience players who I am sure will help manage the young guys well,” said Du Plessis.