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 January 5 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 told PTI.
“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.
“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, one of South Africa’s greatest captains who led his team to a 1-0 victory at home against India four years ago.
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.
During the ongoing home series against Sri Lanka, the formidable hosts struggled in pace-friendly conditions in Kolkata and Dharamsala, raising questions over their readiness to play in foreign conditions in a significant 2018 when they tour South Africa, England and Australia.
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.
“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,” reckons Smith.