Johannesburg: Their weaknesses thoroughly exposed in unfamiliar conditions, India coach Ravi Shastri today said Virat Kohli and Co. should have landed in South Africa earlier to acclimatise and called for more preparatory time ahead of future overseas tours.
India would be playing for a consolation win in the third and final Test starting Wednesday and Shastri conceded that “overseas conditions” are the main reason for being 0-2 down in the series. India had landed in South Africa on 28 December, while the Test series got underway on 5 January.
“Back home, we are familiar with conditions. Ideally we shouldn’t have to fight back (at home), but we fought back and we did well. Here, conditions are different. In hindsight I would say another ten days of practice here would have made a difference,” Shastri said after a practice session today.
“Unfortunately the schedule (this time) was such that you had matches (against Sri Lanka). But I am sure henceforth in the future when itineraries are made that will be taken into account. There is absolutely no doubt about that. You get there a couple of weeks earlier and prepare,” he added.
Talking about the two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, the Indian coach highlighted that the bowlers had done a splendid job, allowing the team to express themselves as the world’s no.1 side.
“No one expected our bowlers to fire the way they did and take 20 wickets so I would rather harp on that because for me that’s the biggest positive that has come out of this tour. We are here to live and learn from our mistakes,” Shastri said.
“We did (play like the no.1 team). We had our moments in both Tests and we looked like the no.1 team when we bowled out South Africa for 130-odd. Or, when we closed the gap thanks to Virat’s brilliant innings (at Centurion)…we looked like the no.1 team in overseas conditions. Not many teams look half that when they come to India,” he added.
India has never lost a Test series 3-0 in South Africa.
Shastri highlighted that the morale in the dressing room is high because the team is creating chances to win Tests in overseas conditions.
He said they are looking forward to the third Test in Johannesburg and pulling one back in the series.
“They have had chances in both Tests but they didn’t make the most of it. So when you believe you have a chance to win then you look forward to a Test match. When you don’t believe you can win you don’t look forward to a test match, as simple as that,” he added.
“The practice pitches were damp. I think they were watered last night, so the bounce was a little spongy and two-paced. So by rolling, we wanted the practice wickets to be a little harder,” explained Shastri.
“Well there is grass on the track and you expect that overseas,” he added, talking about the green-top expected for this third Test at Wanderers.
Shastri, however, refused to complain about the conditions, reiterating that the track is the same for both the teams.
“Neither will they ask me what kind of track are you playing on. We are not here to complain, we have taken 20 wickets. When you take 20 wickets you have a chance to win. If we had batted better we might have well done that,” he added.