New Delhi: Former captain Graeme Smith feels South Africa’s “powerful” bowling attack will put the Indian batting line-up under serious pressure in the upcoming Test series, starting 5 January in Cape Town.
The world no.1 Indian team, up against second-placed South Africa in their own den, certainly makes for an exciting contest. And Smith feels South Africa 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,” Smith said.
“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.
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.
Virat Kohli-led India are certainly on a roll, having won nine Tests series in a row though most of those wins came in the sub-continent.
Smith is expectedly backing a “strong” South Africa to maintain their unbeaten run against India at home and says the visitors only have a chance if they score big runs and the “talked about” pace attack delivers while bowling long spells.
“I think the big challenge for India will be scoring runs. If they can post big totals, they have a good batting line-up, then they will be able to put South Africa under pressure.
According to Smith, Dhawan and Rohit are much improved players now but Kohli and Pujara will be the key batsmen against a potent Protea attack boasting of names like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.
“Pujara and Kohli will be the key batsmen. These are the two players who played well the last time so they will be the key,” says Smith before coming to the Indian pace attack comprising Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, who has received his maiden Test call-up.
“I think that is the next challenge for this Indian team under Kohli. They have won a lot of series in subcontinent and if they want to go up to be one of the top teams of this generation, they will have to do well in South Africa.
“I know for sure that Virat will be hugely motivated to have a big year. If they can go on to have a 2018 where they win in South Africa, England and Australia, that will put this Indian team in an iconic place, Smith signed off.