Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith feels that for India to win a series in South Africa for the first time, their seamers would have to be at their best. The visitors have Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in their ranks. The Gujarat pacer received a Test call-up for the first time in his career.
Smith, though, had a word of warning for the Indian pace battery, stating that they would have to bend their backs a lot more in South Africa: “If India are going to be successful then their three seamers would need to bowl really well. It is a bit of an unknown though, everyone is talking about the Indian seamers. I think the difference is going to be about spells,” Smith was quoted as saying by PTI.
“In India they bowl short spells and try and make an impact but in South Africa they will have to carry a lot more responsibility under pressure, bowl long spells. The seamers will have to win the game for India. It is a very different mindset than what you have in the subcontinent and it remains to be seen if they can carry that and handle responsibility.”
Cape Town India’s best chance
Smith, however, said the scheduling of the first Test in Cape Town could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the under-prepared visitors. India will head into the first Test at Newlands without a warm-up game but Smith thinks the scheduling might just work in favour of the visitors.
“I think Cape Town will be India’s best chance. In South Africa, it is not so much about the moving ball, it is the extra bounce that creates a challenge. Cape Town has had a good drought. I expect the wicket to not do too much and have slow bounce and take a little bit of spin as the games goes on,” Smith said. “Up in Pretoria [second Test] and Johannesburg [third], it is going to be the biggest challenge for the Indian team,” added Smith.
‘Strong’ South Africa
The number one ranked Indian team will be up against second-placed South Africa in their own den. The 36-year-old observes that the Proteas will be extra motivated after their painful 0-3 loss in India couple of seasons ago. “I think South Africa will be very strong. With AB de Villiers coming back, their batting looks a lot stronger. The bowling too is really powerful. They have got four really outstanding experienced pacers to choose from and couple of young pacers as well,”
“Eventually, I think they will only go with three seamers and a spinner (in Keshav Maharaj) and six batters with Quinton de Kock at seven. That will be their batting line-up and I think that is a powerful one,” he said. “I think it is going to be a cracking series. There are exciting players on both sides. I think world cricket needs an exciting Test series and it is shaping up to be one of those.”