'Proteas know what needs to be done'

2015-11-03 18:55
Russell Domingo (Gallo Images)

Mohali - Coach Russell Domingo had said at the beginning of South Africa's 72-day tour that the team understands what needs to be done in Indian conditions and that their pace bowlers could help win matches.

So far he has been proved right. The team prevailed in the limited overs leg with some good performances from their seam bowlers but the top-ranked Test side may have a tougher time in a four-Test series on pitches offering turn.

South Africa is in line to win in all three formats after winning a three-match Twenty20 series 2-0 and clinching the five ODI series 3-2, seeming to have the momentum.

However, premier pace bowler Dale Steyn cautions it will be a long haul in the tests starting Thursday as South Africa aims to win its first test series in India in 15 years.

"I don't think we are favourites," Steyn said on Tuesday. "We're playing in India's back gardens. It's going to be extremely difficult. We come into the series with a lot of expectations. We've come up with some good game plans so far...we are up for the challenge, that's for sure."

In the one-dayers, captain AB de Villiers struck three centuries and left-hander Quinton de Kock got two even as the pace bowlers bowled a precise length to bottle up the Indian batsmen.

Dale Steyn and the upcoming Kagiso Rabada finished with 10 wickets each while Morne Morkel grabbed seven from three games.

Steyn, whose fiery spells helped the South African Test side to innings victories in Ahmedabad in 2008 and in Nagpur in 2010, says it is not necessary for the spinners to run through sides in the upcoming games.

"Everyone has a job to do. We have some good spinners but everybody fills into the unit to get the 20 wickets between us. We still rely heavily on the quick bowlers but everyone knows their job," Steyn said.

South Africa has not lost a Test away from home in more than eight years but India's team director Ravi Shastri eyes a chance for the Virat Kohli-led side.

"They've been unbeaten for so long and it's an opportunity for India to upstage them," Shastri said on Tuesday. "A huge positive can happen for India if they play to potential. This is going to be one of the best series because South Africa is playing so well. The opportunity is for our team to show its mettle."

Shastri, who reportedly had a tiff with the curator for the last ODI at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium as the pitch did not help spinners, says there is nothing wrong with dominating on pitches helping spin bowling.

"I believe you should play to your strength. Wherever teams have played around the world, it is something that you expect. You don't expect to go to Australia or South Africa to see the pitch turn on day one," Shastri said.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to lead the Indian spin attack after missing most of the limited overs leg due to a side strain.

India, which also has in its ranks leg-spinner Amit Mishra and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, will be without pace bowler Ishant Sharma because of a one-match ban imposed during a Test series in Sri Lanka for sledging.

South Africa is likely to miss all-rounder Jean-Paul Duminy who is yet to recover from a hand injury because of which he could not play in the last two games of the ODI series.

The visiting side would also want Test captain Hashim Amla, who has scored four centuries on previous Test tours of India, to return to form after a lean patch in the limited overs legs.

The Mohali Test will be followed by games at Bangalore, Nagpur and New Delhi.

The squads:

India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lokesh Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma.

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Jean-Paul Duminy, Dane Vilas, Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.

Read more on:    proteas  |  russell domingo  |  cricket


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