Mumbai: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar said that India’s success or failure will hinge on how they tackle the new ball in South Africa. In an interview with Cricbuzz, Tendulkar said that India will need to have a good Day 1 as that can then help them pace the innings. “It all depends on how you do on Day One,” he said, “The first spell is going to be very critical. A lot depends on how we tackle the new ball. If we handle the new ball well then we can actually set the pace for the innings. Getting runs on the board is the key.”
This will be the first time since the end of Apartheid that India tour South Africa without Tendulkar in the squad. Tendulkar said that it didn’t take for the team led by Mohammad Azharuddin to understand the challenge they were facing in 1992. “When we went to South Africa for the first time, it didn’t take us long to realise what was coming our way. From the first game itself we realised the level of cricket they were playing. For instance, the warm-up game that we played against the Board’s President’s XI back then. It was a huge eye-opener for us. Even their second and third teams showed such immense potential. At each level, they were busy raising the bar. They’ve always been a competitive side in multiple ways,” he said.
Tendulkar also said that South Africa, while being a team to beat even in the present era, lack a few factors that they possessed whenever he faced them. “The thing with South Africa is they always enjoyed an amazing balance,” he said, “The all-rounders lent an air of authority. And by all-rounders, I just don’t mean guys who could bat and bowl. To me, Jonty Rhodes is the most amazing guy I’ve ever seen on a cricket field when it came to fielding. I’ve seen many good fielders over the years. Ponting, Gibbs, they were all exceptional. But Jonty was something different. Likewise, when I speak of all-rounders, look at the transition that happened from Brian McMillan to Jacques Kallis.”
The series against South Africa is deemed as the first real test that Kohli faces since taking over as captain of the Indian team in all three formats of the game from MS Dhoni in January 2016. Kohli led a dominant Indian team in 2016 as they trumped Australia, New Zealand, England and Sri Lanka at home. They also recorded a first ever 10-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka across formats away from home and beat West Indies in an ODI series away from home. They also reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in England where they lost to Pakistan in the summit clash. But 2018 will be a crucial year for this Indian team as they are set to embark on tours of England and Australia after.