India in SA
Smith: Good start key for SA
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Proteas Test captain, Graeme Smith
, says it will be important to start well in the first Test against India at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
Smith's No.1 ranked side have had a relatively quiet year playing only two matches in the last nine months, and want to "hit the ground running" at the start of an important summer at home.
Smith feels his squad will be better prepared despite another long break between series, and says they have addressed the red flags which led to their loss to Pakistan in the first test in Abu Dhabi.
"Most of the guys have played more cricket now, which is always good," he said after the Proteas’ training session on Tuesday.
"We have discussed the areas where we let ourselves down in that first test against Pakistan.
"We responded well and we have played some positive cricket since then.
"We understand that tomorrow and this first test is an important Test match in a two-match series; we can’t afford to take a day or two to hit our straps."
India has a good record at the Wanderers, winning one and drawing two matches, their only win coming in 2006 by 123 runs.
Smith was unflustered by the statistic, and expressed full confidence in his team's ability to read the Wanderers conditions. MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan are the only two players from India's current squad to have played at the Wanderers, which is renowned for its pace and bounce.
"We have played enough at the Wanderers to know that both first innings' will be tough," Smith said.
"There is a bit of moisture in the wicket, the cracks are looking good, not as much as the WACA looked this morning, but I expect it to be a normal Wanderers wicket of recent times.
"Batting in South Africa is probably one of the toughest places to bat against the new ball," he continued.
"If we can set up good platforms and give ourselves the opportunity to post totals, then I think we will give ourselves a good chance of winning the test match."
The series will be an enticing affair between the top two Test sides in the world, and an even better assessment of the progress the Proteas' Test team continues to make since their reign started at the top of the rankings.
"The big thing is the confidence in knowing that we can win and we can win in situations, the confidence in each other’s ability is also great," Smith said when asked what difference he sensed between past squad's and the present.
"This team has won games and series, the Ashes now puts into perspective the type of performances we have been able to put in during the last period of time."