M.S. Dhoni said that the big challenges facing his team are the pace and bounce that are natural to South African pitches.

Ahead of Thursday’s one-day match against South Africa, the Indian skipper said: “One of the big challenges is to get used to the pace and bounce. The reason being that in India, even on the best of the wickets you don’t get the same kind of pace or the same kind of bowlers. It becomes slightly more difficult for players who have just made their debuts. At the same time, for some of the players who have been playing for the last few seasons, they know the conditions and that gives them the edge.”

Exploiting the conditions

Reacting to his counterpart A.B. de Villers’ remark of India not possessing the best attack in the world, Dhoni quipped: “What’s important is how much you exploit the conditions. It’s not about having the best bowling attack. There have been ups and downs.

“Where we have struggled a bit is when there is dew on the field and when we play on really flat surfaces. But what we have seen is if there is a bit of help for them, they have made the most of whatever is on offer.

“If you don’t have bowlers who can bowl 145 or 150 kmph, then there is no point thinking about pace and bounce. If you have someone who can swing the ball, he will make the most of the conditions here.”

Dhoni also said that the two squads shared a good equation and added: “Whenever we have played a series against them it has been tough but you will hardly see instances where individuals cross the line. Yes, you will have a picture in mind of the 2006 series, but it was (about) two individuals (S. Sreesanth and Andre Nel, who had a conflict).”

Not underdog

Earlier, de Villiers refused to admit that South Africa would start as underdog. “There is no way we can be allowed to be called underdog. If we play to our full potential, there is no one in the world who can stop us. We are playing against a sub-continental team in our conditions. They have a very bad record here. The crowd will play a big part.

“India’s strength lies in batting and I feel we have the skill to counter that. They are certainly not the best bowling attack in the world,” the South African captain said.

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