Proteas prepared for test against India

2013-12-15 14:00

SA confident going into test series, but India’s not a side to be underestimated.

The upcoming test series may be just two matches, but India and South Africa will have vastly different objectives for it.

For India, it will ensure they end their run of bad form away from home, having lost the last eight tests on the road – courtesy of two consecutive whitewashes at the hands of England and Australia, respectively.

The first series whitewash, which came on the back of their cricket World Cup 2011 win, was crucial in seeing them relinquish their number-one test ranking.

Defending their position at the summit of the test rankings will be the Proteas’ priority, but there’s also the carrot of a fourth successive home series win.

If there was one thing lacking in their ascent to the number one spot, it was winning at home.

But they rectified a four-year drought early in 2012 with a 2-1 series win over Sri Lanka and have not lost a test match at home since.

Even so, they’ll be aware that they have not won a test in Durban since 2008.

An Indian team packed with stars like VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar proved too big an obstacle to overcome.

India came back from 1-0 down to level the series with the third test ending in a draw.

From that touring party, only Cheteshwar Pujara, Zaheer Khan, Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma and MS Dhoni remain.

India’s eight defeats away from home necessitated a transformation that has made the current team almost unrecognisable from the 2011 squad.

India is a team in transition – to the point where earlier in the week Proteas coach Russell Domingo said he was glad his team did not have to take Tendulkar’s wicket.

Although the 2-0 ODI series result has to be taken in isolation because of the different demands required by the formats, Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers said they may have gained a mental advantage over of their opponents ahead of Wednesday’s match.

“We said ahead of the first ODI that we could make it a very long tour for them if we win the first ODI and nail our authority,” De Villiers said.

“I feel that we may have scarred some of their batsmen leading up to the test series, but we will have to do it all over again. Hopefully, we’ll make it an even longer tour for them starting in Johannesburg.”

Sharma, who bowled well for seven wickets on his last tour, said the team that arrives mentally better prepared will win the series, even though India struggled in the ODIs.

“I do think that’s part of the game, but when we are in the test cauldron, it will be broken down into many things. On our previous trips we lost the ODI series but took positives from them. We’ll do the same thing,” Sharma said.

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