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Conditions in SA will be the real test for India, says Graeme Smith

The 36-year-old also campaigned for the inclusion of the experienced Dale Steyn for the Test series


Kohli led India to a 3-0 win against South Africa at home in 2015

Kohli led India to a 3-0 win against South Africa at home in 2015


What’s the story?

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has hailed the Indian team’s recent performances in Tests and has lauded Virat Kohli for his inspiring captaincy over the last two years. However, he believes that Kohli’s men won’t have it easy in South African conditions, and the Test series early next year will be the ‘real test’ for the Indians.

“India have been doing quite well in Test cricket. A lot can be attributed to how Virat Kohli has been playing Test cricket and inspiring team-mates. I think the conditions in South Africa will be very different and western for the Indian team.

They have been playing either at home or in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean where the ball comes a bit slow. The conditions in SA will be the real test for the Indians”, Smith told Hindustan Times.

In case you didn’t know…

The world record-holder for captaining an international side in the most number of Tests, Smith was thrust into captaincy at a very early age in 2003, and over the next one decade, helped shape the fortunes of the South African team. From 2004 until 2013, Smith captained the side for multiple tours against India, holding an impressive record at home, letting India win just two out of eight games on Protean soil.

Juggling different roles post retirement, Smith will now be seen in charge of the Benoni Zalmi side as their head coach for the upcoming T20 Global League.

The heart of the matter

The 36-year-old believes that it’ll be an interesting competition between the Indian batsmen and the South African bowling battery of Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and spinner Keshav Maharaj. He also said that the inclusion of Dale Steyn could work out well for the Africans, as his experience will come good against the accomplished Indian batsmen.

He, however, felt that the South African batsmen will have to score big, which will be a challenge considering that their batting line-up looks unsettled and the right combination to face the visitors will have to be carefully thought out.

What’s next?

India will not be playing the Boxing Day Test this year, with the first match of their scheduled four-Test series against South Africa likely to start after January 10, 2018. The Indian team has also insisted on having two warm-up games chalked out before the start of the Tests.

Author's Take

India-South Africa games have always extracted out the best from players of either teams, right from the time the first 'Friendship Series' was played, 25 years back. India has had an envious record in Tests under Virat Kohli's captaincy, but have not been tested yet in foreign conditions which have mardkedly different traits from the slow and low subcontinental pitches.

It will also test the mettle of India's leading batsmen, especially Virat Kohli, who toured South Africa in 2013 at an early stage of his Test career. A good showing against the Proteas will re-affirm his stature as one of the best batsmen of the game in all three formats.

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