Cape Town - When South Africa slumped to a 3-0 Test series defeat in India back in 2015, the conditions were a central talking point.
The Proteas batting was nowhere as the Indian spinners dominated in Mohali, Nagpur and Delhi to secure one-sided wins on wickets that were effectively dust bowls.
The nature of the strips caused a stir in the cricket community, particularly in South Africa, with questions raised over what they were doing for the overall good of the game.
With South Africa's batsmen all at sea against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the art of fast bowling was almost non-existent for India throughout that series as they turned to spin from the get-go.
It is the major reason that India have been near-unbeatable in their own conditions in recent years, but they have struggled on their travels when leaving the sub-continent.
Over the next few weeks South Africa will have a shot at revenge and a chance to drown the demons of that disastrous tour two years ago.
The first of three Tests against India gets underway in Cape Town on January 5 with the Highveld tracks in Johannesburg and Pretoria the other two venues.
With Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander all expected to be fit, one can expect to see wickets that offer the seamers a lot in terms of pace, movement and bounce.
That is where India have struggled in these parts, having drawn one and lost five Test series in South Africa since 1992 without ever having left victorious.
India coach Ravi Shastri, though, has a sense that this side is on the verge of achieving something special.
He says the players are in exactly the right head space this time around and he also downplayed India's struggles away from home.
"Tell me one team in world cricket that has travelled well
over the last two years? We have that opportunity and we sense it," he said.
"For us, every game is a home game. Even this game at
Newlands. You see the pitch and you adapt … no excuses, no complaints. Two
teams have to play on that pitch."
Shastri's firm approach has hardened this India squad, and on Saturday at a training session at Western Province Cricket Club their batsmen spent significant time practicing against the short ball in the nets.
"This team is up for the challenge. If you had asked me four
years ago if it was up for the challenge, I would have said 'no'," Shastri added.
"This team has
gained in experience now. We have strength in our fast bowling department which
is key in taking 20 wickets.
"The beauty about this team is that it doesn’t
matter who the opposition is. We respect all oppositions. We look at the pitch
and adapt to those conditions. It’s as simple as that."
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