Virat Kohli
Can Kohli surpass Tendulkar in South Africa?IANS

A new year will pose a new challenge for Team India as they embark on a tough tour to South Africa. Three Tests to begin with and six ODIs, three T20Is to follow. Captain Virat Kohli will be one of the key batsmen if India are to create history in the longer format.

The opening five-day contest contest is in Cape Town from January 5, 2018. As in any tour for India, who are poor travellers, the match in Cape Town is very significant.

Kohli and his men will have to start well with no warm-up matches to get acclimatised to the conditions. The 29-year-old Kohli has been in prolific form, heading into that game with back-to-back double centuries against Sri Lanka.

The right-hander has seen some incredible highs in international cricket. Many feel his biggest test will come in 2018 where India are slated to play more in foreign conditions.

Having already scored 52 centuries in international cricket and tipped to eclipse Sachin Tendulkar's world record mark of 100, Kohli will have to be on top of his form in the "Rainbow Nation".

India have never won a Test series in South Africa and experts feel this team has the wherewithal to create history. Recently, former skipper Anil Kumble had backed Kohli's men to win the Test rubber.

While a series win is the signpost which India will be chasing, Kohli has another chance to enhance his reputation as a Test batsman in the land of Proteas against Dale Steyn and company.

Tendulkar played 15 Tests in South Africa but a series will eluded. He struck five centuries there and averaged over 46 with more than 1,000 runs. He still holds the record for the highest individual score by an Indian in South Africa - 169.

In Cape Town (January 2-6, 1997), captain Tendulkar hit a superb 169 (254 balls, 26x4) in a losing cause. In the same game, Mohammad Azharuddin struck a ton. But it was not enough as India lost by 282 runs.

Now, 21 years later, at the same venue, skipper Kohli has an opportunity to emulate the batting legend. On current form, he should strike it rich with the bat, if not in Cape Town, in the next two Tests in Centurion and Johannesburg.

Will Kohli surpass Tendulkar's 169 in South Africa and take India to victory?

Or will it be someone else in the Indian batting line-up or Tendulkar's record will stand? Let us wait and watch.