Since the turn of the millennium, Australia have been involved in 33 Test series on home soil. In that period, they have not been clear-cut winners only four times. And on three of those occasions, South Africa were their opponents. Only England have managed to win a series apart from the Proteas in Australia while India and New Zealand have managed a draw in that duration.
Clearly, no one quite tours Australia as well as the South African team in recent history. And no stranger to success Down Under is current Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.
Du Plessis, who made his Test debut during the 2012-’13 Australia Test tour in which the Proteas proved their success in 2008-’09 was no aberration, has attributed the success to learning from years of defeats and a desire to improve. He revealed in an interview to cricket.com.au that it’s those painful memories of humiliations in the past that continues to motivate the present-day team.
And having faced the Indian team earlier this year in their own backyard, Du Plessis believes he saw enough to know that Virat Kohli and Co will compete in the upcoming four-match Test series. India, for the record, have never won a Test series in Australia since they started touring in 1974.
“I think India would perhaps be the most confident they’ve been coming here because they would see there’s an opportunity – (firstly) with the two main batters being out of the (Australia) side,” Du Plessis is quoted as saying by the website.
“But also for the first time I think India has a pace attack to challenge teams around the world, or away from their own conditions. They are extremely tough to beat at home because their pitches spin square and they’ve got unbelievable spinners, and a lot of them, so they can play three or four spinners and just bowl spin all day.
“But what I find with them now is, for the first time, they’ve got three or four seamers in their squad that can bowl 140(kph)-plus and are very good bowlers.”
Du Plessis referred to impressive outing that Kohli’s bowling attack had in South Africa at the beginning of the current season.
“Obviously when you come to conditions like South Africa, Australia, England, you need pace bowlers and in the past they might have had one or two, but now they’ve got three or four. And when they travelled in South Africa (earlier this year), we felt like that was the best pace (attack) that they’ve had.
“They had a very, very good three-match Test series which we won 2-1, so I think they will come over here with high expectations.
Du Plessis said that it is crucial for India to have a fully fit pace attack, unlike the first couple of Tests in England where they missed the services of Jasprit Bumrah. Given a fit Indian bowling line-up, the series is a “fifty-fifty split,” said the Proteas captain.
Dale Steyn, who returned to competitive cricket during South Africa’s white-ball tour of Australia earlier this month, also had praise for India’s pace bowling lineup but pipped Australia to win the series.
“It’s going to be an interesting Test series, and if Virat scores runs – and we know Virat always scores runs – India will do well. But I’d probably go with Australia, just in terms of history against India,” Steyn said.
“The amount of touring they (India) have had this year, the guys might be a bit tired.”