It will be a tough couple of months for Chappell, says Barry Richards
This tour to South Africa could be a watershed for many members of the Indian squad and they must be a little apprehensive about the type of wickets they will play on.
In recent years, as with most countries, the wickets in South Africa have been less sporting than the past but they will still offer the quicker bowlers something.
The Champions Trophy disappointed all of India and the track in Mohali didn't help their cause, but the pitches should not be used as an excuse for some indifferent shot selection. A legacy of years of being able to "stand and deliver" without regard for any lateral movement it was bowlers' revenge at the Champions Trophy and many Indian batsmen were just not able to cope with a different mindset. And that will be required in South Africa for them to regain lost ground.
Failure brings doubt
There are some dependable members Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and of course Sachin Tendulkar but they need to pull the younger and more fragile members of the squad along. Failure brings doubt, doubt brings tension and the combination is not easy to overcome.
Greg Chappell is someone who has looked failure in the eye and been strong enough to come back against a battery of West Indian fast bowlers the likes of whom we haven't seen since. It will be a tough couple of months for him to try and keep his charges focused. I'm sure he still enjoys enormous support from Dravid but foreign conditions can bring out the worst in a touring party and it doesn't take much for the infighting to start.
Chappell thinks very highly of Virender Sehwag, and would have been relying heavily on his support. Another chink? Only time will tell, but Sehwag is a match-winner, especially in one-day cricket. The smaller and quicker grounds in South Africa would have suited his style perfectly. The crunch, however, lies in the Indian bowling and South Africa will be very keen to exploit any lack of confidence among the Indian quicks.
Again, Irfan Pathan looms as the key man. He has had an indifferent couple of months but South African conditions sometimes help those who swing the ball. That to me is the absolute key. Swing the ball a la Chaminda Vaas and you don't have to be express to seriously trouble the South African top order. Even Jacques Kallis has trouble with the left-armer swinging it in to the right-hander.
It will be a real test for India and they will be under the spotlight straight away. The pattern of this tour will be win it and the Indians conquer all, lose it and the knives will be out.