In spite of India riding high on 9 successive Test series victories, questions are still being raised over Virat Kohli’s men as they gear up to take on South Africa in the 3-match series starting from January 5. The side has never won a single Test series in the country and the batsmen have always struggled against fast and bouncy pitches in the country. In spite of the struggles in the past, vice-captain Rohit Sharma asserted that it is India’s best chance of gaining a series win in the country.
Speaking in an interview to Hindustan Times, Sharma stressed that Indian bowlers can do the job for them against Proteas. On being asked whether India can win the series, the 30-year old said, “I agree because it is the best pace attack we have. We believe we can take 20 wickets. These 5-6 bowlers have played together for a number of years now, and are one of the reasons why we are No 1.”
He further added that the fast bowlers will have to step up on overseas pitches. “We have lost only one Test this year, the consistency shows our bowlers have been able to take wickets. I don’t know how much of a role the spinners will have, but the fast bowlers need to step up.”
The right-hand batsman, who recently scored a Test hundred against Sri Lanka, added that Indian batsmen might face a difficult time in the series. “South Africa is not going to be easy. It is not just India, any team which has been put on a pacy and bouncy track will struggle to score runs, it is the nature of the game.”
But Sharma stressed India is ready to face tough challenges. “That is the kind of challenge we want, to play on challenging pitches and conditions. So what if you fail as a team to deliver, there is always learning from that,” he said.
The batsman stressed returning that seamer Dale Steyn can prove crucial for the Proteas in spite of the long injury lay-off. “Steyn had a shoulder surgery, he is playing after almost an year… that is a long lay-off. (But) with his experience I do not think there will be a problem. Obviously, all eyes will be on him and de Villliers as they have not played much of late,” he said.
Sharma further added that India will have to fight hard in the series to get positive results. “Test cricket is challenging, you don’t get results in one or two days. It is five days of hard-fought cricket. You have to be on your toes,” he said.
The Test series between India and South Africa will start from January 5, 2018.