The wins in the T20 and ODI series, notwithstanding, South Africa are wary of slow and spinning tracks that will be on offer in the upcoming Test rubber against India, and all-rounder Faf dU Plessis on Monday said off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be their main threat.
Asked if the visitors are expecting the turf to suit the home side, Du Plessis said, “We are expecting the ball to spin on day one, you expect it and then you plan for it.
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“In India I think it is a lot more aggressive now than it used to be in the past where the pitches probably spin on day three, four and five but they start doing that on day one now.
“So that means the Test matches won’t last long. But for us if it lasts only three days, we will have our plans to try and be attacking, to make sure to wait for opportunity and put momentum in our favour,” Du Plessis told reporters at the IS Bindra PCA stadium here after the team’s practice session ahead of the first cricket Test starting Thursday.
Du Plessis said Ashwin, who will be returning from a short injury lay-off, will be the man to watch out for going into the Test series.
“He is an outstanding spinner but I feel we played him well (in T20s). Now, its a case of Test cricket, but with the conditions he will get a little more turn,” he said.
“Ashwin is our main threat, but we will plan really well. The way we play Ashwin in this series will definitely determine definitely the success in this series.”
Du Plessis expects the Mohali track to turn from the opening day.
“It looks quite dry. We are expecting big spin on day one.”
“The way the wicket is looking at the moment, perhaps, it’s worked,” he said about the Mohali track, in obvious reference to India’s liking for a turning track to suit their strength.
Du Plessis also took a dig at the Indian team management, who expressed their reservations at the pitch offered during the fifth and final ODI in Mumbai.
“I don’t think they would be complaining about the wickets if they were winning. I think it’s a reason to perhaps shift their attention from losing,” the 31-year-old South African said.
Du Plessis, however, was full of praise for South African batsmen showing in the tour so far.
With South Africa playing their maiden Test in Mohali, Du Plessis said the South African batters are up for the challenge in the match.
“Obviously playing India in India in Test cricket is probably the hardest challenge. What has helped us is that we have done really well so far this tour. We have played really good cricket.
“So, we’ve got lot of confidence, but we understand that Test cricket is still going to be the hardest challenge. We’ve practiced well, planned well and we are really hungry to play Test cricket,” he said.
“I suppose because we’ve been No. 1 for a period of time. You look forward to play Test cricket because there is a lot of pride that comes with it,” Du Plessis said.
“Before this series I haven’t played ODI series as well in India. So all I can do is reflect on batting in India. If you are batting in ODIs, you face similar challenges.”
He also said pacer Morne Morkel will be crucial to South Africa’s success in the Test series.
“He (Morkel) is an extremely hard trainer. He is probably the most professional when it comes to doing everything that should be done. He is extremely meticulous about all small things about bowling, rhythms and I can appreciate because I am a batsman who likes the technical side of things. He is a great bowler for us and I think he can be handful for us in these conditions,” Du Plessis said.