South Africa is the final frontier that the Indian Test team is yet to conquer but skipper Virat Kohli firmly believes that his side can do “something special” in its upcoming tour of the Rainbow Nation with a maiden series win there. India would look to improve on their recent impressive record overseas when they take on South Africa in a three-match Test series, starting December 26, under Kohli’s captaincy. “We are very well placed in terms of experience, belief and confidence that this time around we can do something special and get the results that we want as a team and overcome probably the toughest conditions to go and win a series,” Kohli said on Wednesday.
“South Africa is one place where we have not won a series yet. So we are very motivated to do that. And the mindset is always to go there and win a series in any country that we play.
“We don’t anymore think of just winning a Test here and there and we will do our absolute best that we can as a team and make sure that we keep contributing towards that cause,” he added.
India had created history by beating Australia on their own turf twice, and were leading England 2-1 before their UK tour was abruptly suspended earlier this year.
India have played 20 Tests in South Africa, winning only three, and in their last tour in 2018, they gave a tough fight but still lost the series 1-2.
India recently defeated New Zealand 1-0 in a two-match Test series at home.
In the history of Test cricket, there are only three teams — England, Australia and Sri Lanka — who have managed to beat South Africa in their their own backyard.
“We can take a lot of motivation from that of course. We probably won in the toughest conditions on that tour. So that should give us a lot of confidence,” Kohli said.
“If we have the right mindset then we start off the series with a lot of confidence and belief we can definitely stand up to any challenge that comes our way and take a lot of heart from it. We will take a lot of motivation and a lot of belief from that victory,” he said.
India have in the recent past stuck to a five-bowler combination, in the absence of seam-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya. But this time around, they will be tested fully with their spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja out with a forearm injury.
Kohli said they would miss the seasoned Jadeja but that won’t be a “deciding factor”.
“Jadeja has obviously been a very important player for us. He contributes in all three departments of the game, which is invaluable, especially in overseas conditions. He will obviously be missed.
“But having said that, we do have quality in the side to be able to create the best combination possible on the field for us and still be in situations or positions to win Test matches.
“We have created that kind of bench strength and that kind of environment where people coming in are seizing the opportunity and grabbing it with both hands and making sure that the team is helped by their performances.
“So as much as we will miss him I don’t think that that will be a deciding factor in this series or moving forward,” the India skipper said.
There will be no tour game ahead of the first Test on Boxing Day but Kohli stressed on centre wicket practice and match simulation.
“I think those kinds of things really help when you play in conditions which are probably in my opinion the most challenging for batting because of the pace and bounce on offer.
“The conditions can be quite tricky with swing as well bounce. We’ve seen that in South Africa so I think as much simulation as we can have understanding which areas we’re hitting the ball, getting into good shapes and the bowlers as well,” he concluded.
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