South Africa vs India 2018: Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane confident of India's chances in Test series
What's the story?
Ahead of their eagerly awaited face-off against South Africa, batting mainstays Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane are exuding palpable belief in India's chances of toppling the Proteas in the Test series. Wary of the hosts' potent pace attack, the duo backed themselves to contribute significantly to their team's cause in what is expected to be a challenging tour.
"It's about going out there and expressing yourself. I have been to South Africa a couple of times. It's going to be critical on how fast we assess the situation. I'm trying to keep my mind open and do my basics right. It's a battle between ball and bat. It's going to be an interesting experience for everybody - challenging and exciting as well. I'm up for it and I'm pretty sure everybody in the team is ready as well.", Vijay told TOI.
In an interview with NDTV, Rahane enthused, "We will do our best to win the series there. Above all, we are just looking to play good cricket. South Africa is a very good team they have a very good attack, where they know their conditions really well. So we don't want to take them lightly, but at the same time, we want to give our best. I think the first match will be very crucial, whoever does well in the first match will be better off in the series."
In the past...
The 2013 Durban Test saw the emergence of Vijay and Rahane as dependable batsmen away from home as well. While the elegant Tamil Nadu opener compiled a splendid 97 in the first-innings, the technically adroit Mumbaikar produced a valiant 96 in a turbulent second-innings.
The heart of the matter
Historically, India have won just two Tests in South Africa - at Johannesburg in 2006 and at Durban in 2010. Till date, no Asian team has managed to win a Test series in the Rainbow Nation. A 1-1 scoreline is the best that India (2010/11) and Pakistan (1998) have been able to register against the Proteas away from home.
Despite the odds stacked against them, there is a renewed sense of belief that India can create history against a seemingly unsettled South African side. Aside from possessing a 13-point lead over the Proteas at the top of the Test rankings, Virat Kohli's troops are currently on a joint-highest streak of nine consecutive Test series wins. If they manage to win the upcoming one, India will surge ahead of the domineering Australian side of 2005 to 2008.
The first Test between India and South Africa is slated to begin at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on January 5. Having opted out of the sole warm-up fixture, the visitors will be looking to hit the ground running during the practice sessions.
Considering their dominant recent form, expectations are high on India to finally buck the trend and win a Test series on South African soil. While home conditions provide a massive edge to the Proteas, Kohli's team have the resources to create history. All signs point to a fiercely contested series between the top two Test teams in the world.