Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
“Obviously they’re hugely talented but it’s a very different line-up to the one I’ve become accustomed to playing against”
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has issued a warning to India ahead of the first Test in Johannesburg, saying that they will feel the heat and experience firsthand why the Proteas are the number one Test team in the world.
Smith also noted that the Indian line-up had drastically changed since they last toured South Africa in 2010-11 as they no longer have senior players like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman in their side.
“Obviously they’re hugely talented but it’s a very different line-up to the one I’ve become accustomed to playing against,” Smith said. “Touring in other parts of the world is a big test of character and that’s going to be on show in these two Test matches.”
Smith added that the Proteas will continue sticking to the same gameplan heading into the first Test.
“The way we have played has been hugely successful for us,” he said. “We play the game hard but there’s a huge respect factor for the game and our opposition. As the number one team I would like to see us play some good cricket.”
Smith also expects the new ball to be a major factor during the first Test at the Wanderers, which is infamous for its wicked pace and bounce.
“Both first innings are probably going to be tough,” he said. “There’s a bit of moisture in that wicket and some good cracks. I expect it to be a normal Wanderers wicket of recent times, hopefully with good pace and bounce.”
Meanwhile, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stated that the bowlers have to perform well if the national team is to have any chance of handing the South Africans their first series loss since 2006.
“One of the most crucial things will be to bowl well,” he said. “To win Test matches of course you need to score runs but you also need to take 20 wickets. It’s a bit of both, whatever we start first it will fire the confidence of the other department.”
Dhoni was also quick to dismiss rumours and speculation that South Africa have the upper hand heading into the Test series due to the fact that many of India’s batsmen are young and inexperienced.
“Not getting too technical is very important,” he said. “You can’t change your technique in five or seven days. What is important is to know your limitations and at the same time back your strengths. It’s not an experiment.
“They’ve done really well on the domestic circuit in whatever international exposure they have had they have done well.”
Dhoni also revealed that veteran left-arm pace bowler Zaheer Khan will make his Test comeback after more than a year.
“He is very experienced and he can be the leader of the pack,” he said.
Khan has dismissed Smith on 12 different occasions, but the South African captain stated that he was not concerned about that statistic at all.
“I’ve had enough battles with bowlers over the years,” Smith said. “It’s another wonderful opportunity to front up to an outstanding bowler.”