"It was always good to have Sachin, but now that he won’t be there, we have to concentrate on what he have in our hands."
Anointed as India’s most experienced batsman following Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, M.S. Dhoni refused to read too much meaning into it.
“Irrespective of the fact whether I am senior-most or not, every individual has a certain role and responsibility which will remain quite the same,” the Indian captain said here on Tuesday.
Looking ahead at the first Test, Dhoni said that the team’s preparation has been good despite an abandoned warm-up fixture at Benoni and also termed the tour as a learning curve for his young batsmen. “I am confident and that’s why they are here. It’s not an experiment that’s going on. There will be a few who won’t perform, few who will perform and once they go back home, they will carry a big baggage filled with all the positives about how they need to play Test cricket outside India,” he said.
And will Virat Kohli bat at number four? Dhoni cryptically said: “Wait and watch.”
‘Hitting the top of off-stump,’ would be the ideal line and length, proclaimed Dhoni and he stressed upon the key roles that Zaheer Khan and R. Ashwin could play in the series. Understandably he refused to read much into the victories at home and the losses in England and Australia and said: “Every series is a fresh start. No point bringing excess baggage.”
Earlier, Dhoni’s counterpart Graeme Smith said that “South Africa is probably the toughest place to bat in the world” and added that the Indian batsmen would be tested. “I know they are hugely talented. Touring other parts of the world is a test of character and it is certainly going to be for them in the two Tests,” the South African captain said.
When asked about intimidating the Indians, Smith guardedly replied: “We will play the game hard and there is a big respect-factor for the game and the opposition. As the number one team in the world, I would like to see us have some good credibility and lead the game well. Ultimately we want to win this Test.”
Smith reiterated that the pitch will aid the fast bowlers and said: “Both first innings are probably going to be pretty tough. There is a bit of moisture in the wicket and the cracks are looking pretty good but not like (how) the WACA (Perth) looked but I expect it to be a normal Wanderers wicket, so the new ball will have something in it.”
Keywords: India-South Africa Test series