A day before the first Test of the series at the Wanderers,India and South Africas captains were asked very similar questions during their respective media conferences. But MS Dhoni and Graeme Smith dealt with them differently. Heres how.
On Indias batting
Graeme Smith: They are a hugely talented bunch but very different from the Indian line-up we are accustomed to play against. Touring different parts of the world is a test of character and it is going to be so for them.
MS Dhoni: With the last Test match we played in India,it is 100 percent sure that Sachin wont be available for any more international series. It was always good to have him,but now that he wont be there,we have to concentrate on what he have in our hands. We have accepted that fact and moved on.
On Indias away record
smith: Touring different parts of the world is a test of character and it is going to be so for them in the next two Test matches.
Dhoni: Every series is a fresh start. There is no point bringing excess baggage. It is about getting used to conditions and offering what the team has. There are plenty of youngsters in this side,who will get exposure by playing competitive cricket at the Test level. So its a big positive for us.
On the opposition
Smith: There is a big respect-factor for the game and for India. And as the number one team in the world,I want to see us have some good credibility and lead the game well. We will play the game hard. Ultimately we want to win this Test match and that is our goal. It wont be different from the last time we played Test cricket.
Dhoni: We learnt plenty from the series,what lengths to bowl as bowlers and as batsmen what to leave. So overall,our preparation to take on South Africa has been good and it is all about how individuals adapt to different scenarios now.
On the pitch
Smith: Here,if you post decent totals,then you give yourself the best chance of winning. It doesnt need to be 500-600 runs because there is always enough for the bowlers to do well. So if we can have a partnership at an important stage in the game,it will be crucial to set up a good platform and post a good total,giving us the opportunity to do well in this Johannesburg Test match.
Dhoni: The wicket here will certainly assist the fast bowlers initially. The ideal length anywhere is to bowl at the top of off-stump and the bowlers have picked it up now they have played a few ODIs here. So it will be very crucial to bowl well,especially with the new ball because early wickets can put pressure on the middle-order.
On Zaheer Khan
Smith: I have had enough battles with bowlers over the years and I dont need to lose much sleep over it (his personal past record facing Zaheer). It is another wonderful opportunity to front up to an outstanding bowler.
Dhoni: Zaheer has plenty of experience and at the same time he will guide the younger bowlers,leading the attack. But in this series,Ashwins role is also very crucial because he wont get the same kind of assistance he gets back in the sub-continent.