India in South Africa 2013-14 December 12, 2013

India look to batsmen without baggage

53

Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay are the only two India batsmen to have previously played Tests in South Africa. They don't carry too many scars of defeat either. Of the two Tests that Pujara has played there, India have won one and drawn the other. Vijay became part of one of India's two Test wins in South Africa in his only Test in the country. Even in the ODIs, Vijay has been on the winning side in two out of three games. Nor has either of the two been part of the drubbing handed out in the ODIs on this tour.

Instead, while India lost the ODI series, Pujara and Vijay were part of the contingent that has gone through six net sessions. They have had more time to get used to the conditions than those who played the ODIs, who, in the words of Virat Kohli, have played the games and then got to know the conditions. India will look to them to bring positive reinforcement to a side that will be low on confidence. The two promised the same a day before India begin their two-day tour game before the Tests.

"I think the important thing here is that you need to adjust to the bounce and the lateral movement that is there on the wicket," Pujara said. "So since I have played a couple of matches here it will help me adjust better and I think the preparation time that we had here is also enough and should help us to perform better."

For Vijay, it is all about not paying too much attention to external factors. "I personally think you have got to keep it simple because already there is a lot of talk going around," Vijay said. "You have got to go out there and be free in your mind, and just see the ball and play. That's the basic plan, as simple as that."

Pujara and Vijay have had different build-ups to the tour of South Africa. Playing in Ranji Trophy, Pujara has scored two centuries in three matches, one of them a double, which he said gave him confidence coming here. Vijay scored only 118 runs in his three matches, but he said he was feeling good about his game.

"When you have some runs in the last innings, it does feel good," Pujara said. "The kind of runs that I had in the last innings, the time I spent at the crease, it really helps me to improve my concentration and when you have the best of concentration it's easy to adjust to the conditions. Obviously, confidence-wise it helps."

"For me, it's a feel-good factor inside," Vijay said. "It's not about how many runs I score, it's more about how I bat. If am in good touch and hitting the ball well, that matters to me more. In that respect, I am satisfied at where I am. Looking forward to whatever I can do in South Africa."

This is the first time Pujara and Vijay have travelled out of India as certainties, out of right and not because the main players are resting. Pujara admitted this tour was a challenge for him. "When you are playing at the international level you expect fast bowling, so it is not about who is the fastest," Pujara said, "but yeah conditions are favourable for the bowlers and so it is a little challenging for us, but that is the important part as a youngster because when you want to grow as a cricketer you want to face challenges and learn out of it. It will be a challenging tour for us, but we are well prepared for it."

The last time Pujara was here he fought hard in Durban before a back-foot defensive topspun onto his stumps. In Cape Town he got an unplayable delivery from Dale Steyn, which started leg, swung, and hit his pad in front of off. It has been three years since.

"The last one-and-a-half years has been really good for me," Pujara said. "Playing the Test format and scoring those runs. I think I have become a matured player, and playing against teams like Australia and England has helped me a lot because they have very good fast bowling. I think the kind of runs you score in one-one-and-a-half years when you're in good form, you've got a lot of confidence. Even in the domestic matches I have scored runs. I have very good confidence, which helps a cricketer prepare himself mentally rather than what he does on the field. When you are mentally prepared there are some adjustments, which need to be done on the field. Then you are in the best frame of mind, you have the best chance of preparing yourself on the field."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 15, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Nampally U think Pujara can score at 7 rpo. If yes then he deserves to play ODI bcz indian bowlers leak 350 every inn. If he can't why other batsmen cover for his low S/R.

  • on December 15, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Indian players have some luck as they don't need to play at Capetown. One of the Scary pitches I have ever seen. Some big nation like Australia, Pakistan, Mew Zealand, Sri Lanka (in ODI) managed to score under 50! I hope you all knew about the matter.

  • aravinth_gct on December 15, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    not really satisfied abt vijay's comments..i firmly believe its all the first session and if tht fails india shld be done

  • on December 14, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Friends, why are you shouting so -vely for India ? It is but natural for every player a bit struggle in overseas condition. Evrybody is watching what Englad & WI are struggling the same way. WI won easily with the same opponents in their home series & same happened in last ashes in England. Can anybody predict De Cock will perform same in India againnst same Ashwin & Jadeja ? What happened to Steyn in last IPL when his countryman Devilliers hit 27 runs in one over for RCB ? So what India is having hard time is a just part of the game. I m sure, Our heros Shikhar, Virat & Rohit must be working hard for test series. In ODIs definately nobody among these 3, threw their wickets or scared of bouncers of SA bowlere. Its only lack of practice games which should have been there before ODIs. This is very important series for Rohit, Shikhar & Virat. They are the three young pillers of our Indian batting. We should support them instead of only critisism. In tests India will do better. Best wishes

  • on December 14, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    i would rather have four fast bowler and ashwin in indian team. there should not be any place for ojha or jadeja. my playing eleven would be: 1. S. Dhavan 2. M. Vijay 3. V. Kohli 5. R. Sharma 6. M.S. Dhoni 7. R. Ashwin 8. B. Kumar 9. Z. Khan 10. U. Yadav 11. M. Shami

  • kbza86 on December 13, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    I think the team should be 1.Peterson 2. Smith 3. Amla 4. Kallis 5.ABD 6. Duminy 7. du Plessis 8 Philander 9.Steyn 10.Morkel 11.Tahir

  • Nampally on December 13, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    Ashwin's comments in another Cricinfo article talk about his determination to bowl well & win. The problem with his bowling is, he tries too many tricks with the result his accuracy suffers! Focus on length & off stump bowling- NOT Leg stump. This is where he fails with too many runs on the leg especially when his length falters! So my advise to Ashwin is focus on accuracy & bowl to your field. Forget "Doosra. Teesra, Cannon Ball" & all these fancy terms which will not blind any good batsmen on SA pitches. I prefer 4 Seamers to 3 @ Johannesburg! 5 Batsmen + Dhoni are other 6. Indian fielding - particularly close catching needs a step improvement. Batsmen need to focus on discipline & Patience -leaving the balls outside the off well alone. As usual SA will focus on bouncers - leave them- because each bouncer costs them the energy of 2 balls. Tire & Tear! should be the theme while batting. Singles will keep score board moving till bowlers tire. Paper strength must translate into ACTION!

  • on December 13, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Scoring 200 300 on Indian spinner friendly pitches shows your capability of handling spin well and maintaining concentration for long..but this is real test for pujara..if he can score total 200 runs in 4 innings then that's more than enough.. He is mentally strong but technically not ideal on sa pitches like kohli n rohit..so let's wait n watch..I hope he at least stay on wicket for first 20 -30 overs..but I am sure about vijay..he will be biggest flop of this tour because he leaves gap between bat n pad n lack footwork steyn and philander will get him out under 10 runs..for this tour my hope is kohli,rohit,dhawan,dhoni..

  • sixesandfours on December 13, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    @Praveen: Keeping the 4 pacers with spin is a right combination for India. THis should be the lineup with Dhani coming for Sachin's place of batting at 4. 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja/Aswin 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India.

  • on December 13, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    4 seamers, opening spell- Umesh and Ishant, Shami and Zaheer with old ball for reverse. Ashwin or Jadeja for over rate balancce.

  • on December 15, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Nampally U think Pujara can score at 7 rpo. If yes then he deserves to play ODI bcz indian bowlers leak 350 every inn. If he can't why other batsmen cover for his low S/R.

  • on December 15, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Indian players have some luck as they don't need to play at Capetown. One of the Scary pitches I have ever seen. Some big nation like Australia, Pakistan, Mew Zealand, Sri Lanka (in ODI) managed to score under 50! I hope you all knew about the matter.

  • aravinth_gct on December 15, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    not really satisfied abt vijay's comments..i firmly believe its all the first session and if tht fails india shld be done

  • on December 14, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Friends, why are you shouting so -vely for India ? It is but natural for every player a bit struggle in overseas condition. Evrybody is watching what Englad & WI are struggling the same way. WI won easily with the same opponents in their home series & same happened in last ashes in England. Can anybody predict De Cock will perform same in India againnst same Ashwin & Jadeja ? What happened to Steyn in last IPL when his countryman Devilliers hit 27 runs in one over for RCB ? So what India is having hard time is a just part of the game. I m sure, Our heros Shikhar, Virat & Rohit must be working hard for test series. In ODIs definately nobody among these 3, threw their wickets or scared of bouncers of SA bowlere. Its only lack of practice games which should have been there before ODIs. This is very important series for Rohit, Shikhar & Virat. They are the three young pillers of our Indian batting. We should support them instead of only critisism. In tests India will do better. Best wishes

  • on December 14, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    i would rather have four fast bowler and ashwin in indian team. there should not be any place for ojha or jadeja. my playing eleven would be: 1. S. Dhavan 2. M. Vijay 3. V. Kohli 5. R. Sharma 6. M.S. Dhoni 7. R. Ashwin 8. B. Kumar 9. Z. Khan 10. U. Yadav 11. M. Shami

  • kbza86 on December 13, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    I think the team should be 1.Peterson 2. Smith 3. Amla 4. Kallis 5.ABD 6. Duminy 7. du Plessis 8 Philander 9.Steyn 10.Morkel 11.Tahir

  • Nampally on December 13, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    Ashwin's comments in another Cricinfo article talk about his determination to bowl well & win. The problem with his bowling is, he tries too many tricks with the result his accuracy suffers! Focus on length & off stump bowling- NOT Leg stump. This is where he fails with too many runs on the leg especially when his length falters! So my advise to Ashwin is focus on accuracy & bowl to your field. Forget "Doosra. Teesra, Cannon Ball" & all these fancy terms which will not blind any good batsmen on SA pitches. I prefer 4 Seamers to 3 @ Johannesburg! 5 Batsmen + Dhoni are other 6. Indian fielding - particularly close catching needs a step improvement. Batsmen need to focus on discipline & Patience -leaving the balls outside the off well alone. As usual SA will focus on bouncers - leave them- because each bouncer costs them the energy of 2 balls. Tire & Tear! should be the theme while batting. Singles will keep score board moving till bowlers tire. Paper strength must translate into ACTION!

  • on December 13, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Scoring 200 300 on Indian spinner friendly pitches shows your capability of handling spin well and maintaining concentration for long..but this is real test for pujara..if he can score total 200 runs in 4 innings then that's more than enough.. He is mentally strong but technically not ideal on sa pitches like kohli n rohit..so let's wait n watch..I hope he at least stay on wicket for first 20 -30 overs..but I am sure about vijay..he will be biggest flop of this tour because he leaves gap between bat n pad n lack footwork steyn and philander will get him out under 10 runs..for this tour my hope is kohli,rohit,dhawan,dhoni..

  • sixesandfours on December 13, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    @Praveen: Keeping the 4 pacers with spin is a right combination for India. THis should be the lineup with Dhani coming for Sachin's place of batting at 4. 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja/Aswin 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India.

  • on December 13, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    4 seamers, opening spell- Umesh and Ishant, Shami and Zaheer with old ball for reverse. Ashwin or Jadeja for over rate balancce.

  • Nampally on December 13, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    Indian batting in ODI would have been stronger had Vijay & Pujara were in the line up. But the Indian Selectors over decades have been known for their omission of most deserving guys. Remember, M.L.Jaisimha was dropped from the OZ tour 1967-68. But when Chandra a bowler was injured, they recalled Jaisimha, the batsman. Jai showed his class with 74 & 101 in 2 innings in Brisbane Test the day after landing in OZ land. Pujara's case is similar. He has sound technique, footwork & ability to fight back but sadly left out of ODI's. He averages about 65 in Tests - the highest for any Indian batsman. Whist all ODI batsman got a chance to get batting practice in the middle against Steyn & Co, Pujara was left to practice in the nets! So for him it will be the first venture in the middle.Whether Pujara succeeds or Not- he has the right approach to fight back. On him depend India's batting revival. Vijay can score big but he appears to be indifferent form now. Good luck to both on their debut!

  • RB007 on December 13, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    At the end of it all, this series essentially boils down to a simple equation: How does the World's Best Emerging Batting side face upto the World's Best Bowling attack on their home pitches? The Fab Four is gone and replacing them will be the Fab Five. I am including Ajinkya Rahane to the list of Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli and Rohit. The South African Batting led by Amla, Kallis and De Villiers may be currently stronger than India's, but give it another 18 months. It is inexperienced in Test cricket and unfortunately South Africa is a hard place to do your apprenticeship - especially if you are from the subcontinent. A Mitchell Johnson would have tested South Africa. Unfortunately we have turned up with knives for a gun fight. How these 5 young men begin their journey outside India playing against the best, forms the main sub plot of this series. Defeat is probably inevitable but there is still a lot to look forward to.

  • on December 13, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    From:- PBJOIL In the SA First Test Match will pick 11as follows;1 S. Dhavan, 2 M.Vijay, 3 C. Pujara, 4 V. Kohli, 5 R. Sharma,6 M. Dhoni, 7 R.Ashwin/ A. Rahane 8 P. Ojha, 9 Z. Khan, 10 M. Shami, 11 I. Sharma/ B. Kumar (On the Bench A. Rayadu, U. Yadav, W. Saha, R. Jadeja) Please comments on this thanks dear reader.and sport/ cricket supporters.

  • on December 13, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    All is well... Whatever those little resistance these batsmen provide.. Can we overcome that effort of Amla, Kallis, ABde?? With smith joing he squad.. but India is just throwing their last dice... "Zaheer Khan"! If it doesnt work out.. then India has nothing to do about it.. Further Ashwin-Jadeja i dont think their combo will work here.!! MY pick.. dhawan, Vijay, Pujara, Virat, Rohit, MSD, Raina, RJ, Ashwin, Zaheer, Shami, Ishant.

  • Siddiee on December 13, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    SA definitely start favorites. No point thinking about pace, bounce, facing number 1 team etc. This is test cricket and one has to apply himself and show temperament. Kohli, Pujara, Rahane and Rohit (if he is mentally prepared) have technique to play on these pitches and most important thing for them will be to spend some time in the middle. I have heard enough about short ball stuff but if a batsman is keen to watch the ball all the way through then a leave becomes easier. Dhoni at the same time has to do away with his defensive tactics and needs to show more confidence in his bowling. India has to be patient and focus on one session at a time and make SA think and maybe alter their plans.

  • spot_on on December 13, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Now everybody is looking upto Zak after the so called promising Bhuvaneswar and Umesh failed in the ODIs. That's the power of Zap Zak !!! Captain cool, You should probably look into grooming the bowlers with the help of senior bowlers who had brought the team a lot of laurels. Zak will be lethal this time. Better than Steyn and Morkel. Sure stuff.

  • Unomaas on December 13, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    Pujara...you are class. The rest of SA also think you are class (that includes Steyn and co.). Out of all the Indian batsmen, you're the only batsmen we rate. Thats why the SA attack will be gunning for you. If you do survive the onslaught, they will all leave you alone and target the batsmen on the otherside. I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself fighting rearguard actions with the tail trying to post competitive scores.

  • Iceman29 on December 13, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @Greatest_Game: Think you are Aus fan....It means that Your Aus team is no better than the current Ind team.....they can win only in their home ground not in subcontinent pitches....Like Ind, Aus got whitewashed in Ind last time in test series....currently no team is dominant in in all conditions....so just chill...

  • Iceman29 on December 13, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Lets be realistic...SA is gonna win the test series for sure but if India managed to make them sweat for their Victory it will be good as we can say that atleast we are showing an improvement from ODI thrashing.....but if we manage a draw that itself will be an achievement for this inexperienced team....Having said that I guess that SA will roll out another doctored green pitch for sure and their team will have full of fast bowlers who will run over this batting lineup....

  • CricketMaan on December 13, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    I guess Indian fans must get behind thier team rather than just being a cynic. This team has not played test together overseas and they will be put to sword by best bowlers in favorable conditions. But its important to support them. There is no team currently in the world that has conquered all conditions and most are very good at home and average or poor outside. SA to some extent are no different that they thrive on good hard, bouncy ptiches while indifferent in slow turning pitches. Get behind them and support and lets enjoy a good contest.

  • on December 13, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    @Raju_Iyer.. you seem to be Mumbai indian Fan...!! so backing up Rohit ..!!and more importantly understating..Dhoni and Kohli. Dhoni is the only man to score a halfcentury for india in ODI's. Kohli & dhawan ..I am damn sure he is in better touch than Rohit..!!

  • Veera_Kannadiga on December 13, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    The possibility of India going 0-2 is almost certain due to the lack of confidence when playing in foreign soil, however i would suggest this XI for a dignified draw. Dhawan,Vijay,Pujara,Kohli,R.Sharma,Rahane,Dhoni,Khan,Shami,Ashwin and Ojha or I.Sharma.

  • Greatest_Game on December 13, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    n

    Opinions bot based in fact are mere speculation. Raju_Iyer is positing his speculation, but the facts remain. South Africa well and truly drubbed India in the ODIs.

  • fudgys11 on December 13, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Jadeja doesn't fit into scheme of things since he cannot guarantee you any wicket or runs . He is very good for your ODI team. My team: Dhawan, Rohit,Pujara, virat, Rahane(Vijay) ,Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer, Ishant,Shami,and Ojha. This team will ensure you a Draw.

  • fudgys11 on December 13, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    There is no point in packing your team with pacers since none of them can put any fear in the basemen mind. Just because conditions are suitable for fast bowling, you cannot have medium pacers who are struggling to fire. You have to back your spinners and moreover SA are susceptible to good spin and not poor pace.Take both OJHA and Ashwin. Ashwin can also come good in batting as he has looked better than some of the top order batsmen, though the intensity of the bowling has looked poor when he has been batting. Thats not his fault. What we have to look for is somehow look to DRAW this game and hope that players come to terms with the conditions during this time . After the first test you can bring your game plan to win. Pack the team with 7 batsmen, 2 pacers-2 spinners, draw the game and use it for batting practice. Next test we should have a definite game plan - to win

  • Guruprasad.S on December 13, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    @Raju_Iyer: When a team loses ODIs by about 140 and 130 runs, then 'drubbing' is an understatement. 'Sound thrashing', 'whacking' are the right words perhaps. Also, I can not relate to the optimistic picture painted here by Mr. Monga, because the evidence is to the contrary. Batsmen without baggage or batsmen without runs??? Only Pujara, and to an extent Rohit, appear to have necessary technical skill to negotiate SA bowlers in these conditions. But M.Vijay, Dhawan and Dhoni are sitting ducks for SA bowlers. Not sure what to expect from Kohli. He can play pace and bounce, but is suspect against movement. Also, all the talk by Zaheer and Ashwin about fighting etc appears a bit hollow right now. The simple fact is that SA are huge favourites to win this series 2-0 comfortably. I would like to see India win, realistically, I would like to see India COMPETE, and make it hard for SA to win.

  • sixesandfours on December 13, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    Agree with you @viru-319-219. I think Dhoni should not worry about the batting depth and if you see in the past South Africa's average scores against India in the test is around 270 mark. And India's average score is 250 mark. So negating the minor difference through bowling only. Also, the reason for 4 pacers are same as England, Australia and SA tactics on their pitches and see the Ashes England finally following Australia in 3rd test and will certainly a different result for them. India should adapt to 4 pacers strategy in their own backyard. Jadeja brings batting strength at number 7 and in between Jadeja or Ashwin, Jadeja will be sure a winner. I think for India this should be the ideal startup with Dhoni taking place of Sachin's spot. 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India.

  • on December 13, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    What about the bowlers?! Apart from a few Sami spells, the rest have been lacklustre. Why are seamers like Bhuvi and Yadav able to take new ball wickets on the supposed "dust tracks" of india fail on tour?

  • Raju_Iyer on December 13, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    I disagree that India were drubbed in the ODIs, definitely SA batted and bowled better in both the ODIs which were completed, but to say "drubbing" is to get carried away. I am certain Team India will fight well in the Tests. Go India, go!

  • on December 13, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    Looking at the Performance of indian team in odi's if anyone thinks that the test series will b the repeat of it... Then it will b a big mistake.. This will b a different ball game... And with the return of dependable pujara and Zaheer we certainly have a chance to put up a good fight... HopIng for an Indian win ..

  • ashok16 on December 13, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    I think Vijay has the potential to surprise. And I think Kohli will be a flop. The rest, let us see.

  • soumik on December 13, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    2-0 with a possibility that none of the test will go to 4th day.But that's again accaeptable with a new and young team. Remember we lost 4-0 both in England and Australia with our best players.

  • on December 12, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    India need more concentration on fast and bouncy pitches to deal class bowling.

  • Lallubhai on December 12, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Did anyone notice in the 2nd ODI when Steyn bowled his last spell when the ball had softened he looked half as threatening. Top order must play out Steyn ,Morkel etc because in tests their will be no pressure to score runs quickly like their was in ODI'S.Then we can capitalize and hopefully shut the filth coming from the mouths of the worlds no'1 CHOKERS .

  • viru-319-219 on December 12, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    @sixesandfours .......... If Dhoni wants to play left arm spinner it will be Ojha and not Jadeja, Ashwin and Ojha are specialist spinners and Jadeja is not. It will be a 3 Pace and 1 spinner attack, No captain will take a gamble of going in with 5 bowlers when his team's batting is failing so consistently and also becoz of the fact that these are foreign conditions and are more likely to be bowler friendly that batsmen. Extra batsman will be the option Dhoni goes with unless he trusts Jadeja's batting ability and his bowling ability on green turfs which I think he won't.

  • anvesh4444 on December 12, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    I think the team should be:1.Rahane 2.Dhawan 3.Pujara 4.Virat 5.Rohit 6.Rayudu 7.Dhoni 8.Zaheer 9.Shami 10.Ishant 11.Ozha, i think it will be no use to play spinners in SA but for Ozha he know how to use bounce on wicket. Ashwin is a huge flop overseas , we cant play him just for his extra batting abilities. Vijay dont have any potential in his batting to face Steyn & co in SA, he is also not in form from long time.

  • sixesandfours on December 12, 2013, 19:26 GMT

    @Sachin O. Khairnar: Jadeja and Ishant far better than Rahane and Ashwin in SA pitches. When is the last time india have a left arm spinner with 4 pacers. Not in the recent memories, in AUS they keep 4 pacers but did not have a spinner as Ashwin is no clue at all and lost there. What England did in India - used the same tactic of India by keeping 2 spinners and 2 pacers in their team and won. What India should do keep the same tactics of SA - keeping 4 pacers. and advantage India have now over SA is a quality Leftie Jadeja with ok pacers Zaheer, Ishant, Yadav and Shami.

  • Rumy1 on December 12, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    Considering the requirements of lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers, skills and temperament of Wasim Jaffer was required there. Jaffer should have been the first opener in the Test at Johannesburg. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track there and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn, Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them.

  • pradeepsays on December 12, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    It is hard to believe that the BCCI with all its clout, both financially and otherwise, cannot prepare our cricketers for their trips abroad. It is a well known fact that the batsmen find disconcerting bounce and pace overseas especially in SA and AUS and our bowlers bowl too full. Given that external conditions like crowd behaviour and loyalty cannot be replicated, the pitch per se should not be a problem if our board invests in pitches that are similar in nature (atleast 2 or 3 in the country). Alternately they should consider getting in drop-in pitches that would replicate the bounce and pace of these countries. Surely this can be done and we may have a Raina or Yuvray scoring big hundreds in Aus & SA too or Bhuvaneshwar Kumar or Umesh Yadav getting five fors consistently!

  • on December 12, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    my bets are on Rohit... after his back to back centuries in 1st 2 tests. Ofcourse conditions are different.. but if he comes at middle order after the ball is smooth.... His technique is unbeatable... I Fell test is rohit's home ...

  • vakkaraju on December 12, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    The top 5 batsmen all have the talent and technique to succeed. The faster surfaces means the ball comes on a fraction sooner and bounces higher. A movement of just 2 inches means an edge. The is no alternative to acclimatization The sad truth about BCCI and its planners is they give these players very little time to adapt. All schedules for Australia, England and SA are finalized 2 years ahead with dates etc. We in India in true Banana Republic fashion wait till the last minute to cobble together a series. The results are therefore sometimes scratchy. India could be true world beaters given good administrators.

  • Kappa69 on December 12, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Steyn , Philnder , Morkel , Rory , Kallis - Can the indian batting department survive? :)

  • thinkgood on December 12, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    Vijay has had long road before he has come to be a permanent member of the test squad. Pujara is yet to prove himself in the pacey and bouncy pitches of SA. Dhawan and Rohit come to me as only limited over batsmen. Jaddu has a long way to go also. So that leaves only Kohli and Dhoni as the sure shot winners other than Vijay and Ashwin. Ashwin is not an all-rounder guys ... please don't dream on. I am not sure how far Zaheer would be effective in his come back series which is abroad . Its not going to be an easy ride for India as its painted out to be. SA is not going to be sitting quietly either in their own backyard. Let us see....

  • nainil0683 on December 12, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    While I have full confidence in Pujara's abilities, his show in South Africa remains to be eagerly seen. He failed last time around here, but he was very new to International cricket that time. He had recently toured South Africa with the A team and scored heavily so that would certainly help him psychologically. It's always good to feel better when you have scored runs in India, but South Africa is a different ball game. It really does not matter how many doubles or triples you score in India, because it becomes 0 on South African conditions. It is a real test of character, technique and temperament which we all expect Pujara to fight it out. Hats off to legends like Sachin and Dravid for scoring so consistently around the world. That's why I always feel that BCCI should create few tracks which match South African wickets which will give our batsmen good experience to face those teams in their backyard. Batting for hours in same home conditions would not help you outside India.

  • on December 12, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Sorry there should be no Jadeja and Ishant in tests team. Team Should be: Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Rahane, Rohit, Kohli, Ashwin, Dhoni, Shami, Zaheer, Umesh.

  • sixesandfours on December 12, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    India should keep experienced Dhoni in place of Sachin batting place. That leaves battign order in proper place and select 4 pacers with Jadeja as specialist spinner. Keep Ashwin bench as he is mediocore in SA, ENG, AUS pitches and focus on ging 100 percent with batting support. PLay XI for India - 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India. God Bless!!!

  • SurlyCynic on December 12, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Why, did the airline lose their kit bags on the way over from India?

  • on December 12, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    They wont do any thing scoring double centuries in india is quite different to score one in SA you both have been marked by the styen who is deadly and fast in rhanji trophy you can count half decent fast bowlers on your fingers in ranjhi ball dosent bounce abve knee hight but on SA wickets you going to face chin music

  • on December 12, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    "Conditions are favourable to the bowlers" ?? These are normal cricketing wickets in this part of the world. Batsman can score here too, not unless you know how to play proper fast bowling.

  • on December 12, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Hope pujara leaves well because if he doesn't the steyngun will fire like an artillery gun and if he leaves well steyn will look to bowl him on off stump with away swingers hope he is India's alma

  • glen1 on December 12, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Yes, Pujara, Vijay and Zaheer dont carry the baggage of one-day series' trashing, so they are certainties. Wonder if Ashwin can be taken as an allrounder and Ojha played to bring in another surprise? That leaves Kohli, Rohit and Dhoni in the middle order; Ishanth and Shami to make the eleven.

  • bhushanB on December 12, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Good luck guys! Fight it out....

  • viru-319-219 on December 12, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    Pujara can succeed in SA due to his Amla like technique ... He hangs on the backfoot unless the ball is too full and this will help him avoid Steyn swinging deliveries outside off by just leaving them, hoping a very good series for Pujara. Vijay on other hand has a initial forward movement and he needs to adjust very quickly else he will be a bunny to steyn like Hafeez who also has a initial forward movement, Not expecting much from him. Rohit may be a star alongside Pujara just because he comes in middle order. I strongly believe he should bat in middle even in ODIs despite his success top of the order just because of his ability to score runs freely and build an innings. He is being exposed to initial swing at the top and Indian team is risking his wicket there. Not many expectations from Kohli or Dhoni either and No Jadeja in tests please........................

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  • viru-319-219 on December 12, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    Pujara can succeed in SA due to his Amla like technique ... He hangs on the backfoot unless the ball is too full and this will help him avoid Steyn swinging deliveries outside off by just leaving them, hoping a very good series for Pujara. Vijay on other hand has a initial forward movement and he needs to adjust very quickly else he will be a bunny to steyn like Hafeez who also has a initial forward movement, Not expecting much from him. Rohit may be a star alongside Pujara just because he comes in middle order. I strongly believe he should bat in middle even in ODIs despite his success top of the order just because of his ability to score runs freely and build an innings. He is being exposed to initial swing at the top and Indian team is risking his wicket there. Not many expectations from Kohli or Dhoni either and No Jadeja in tests please........................

  • bhushanB on December 12, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Good luck guys! Fight it out....

  • glen1 on December 12, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Yes, Pujara, Vijay and Zaheer dont carry the baggage of one-day series' trashing, so they are certainties. Wonder if Ashwin can be taken as an allrounder and Ojha played to bring in another surprise? That leaves Kohli, Rohit and Dhoni in the middle order; Ishanth and Shami to make the eleven.

  • on December 12, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Hope pujara leaves well because if he doesn't the steyngun will fire like an artillery gun and if he leaves well steyn will look to bowl him on off stump with away swingers hope he is India's alma

  • on December 12, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    "Conditions are favourable to the bowlers" ?? These are normal cricketing wickets in this part of the world. Batsman can score here too, not unless you know how to play proper fast bowling.

  • on December 12, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    They wont do any thing scoring double centuries in india is quite different to score one in SA you both have been marked by the styen who is deadly and fast in rhanji trophy you can count half decent fast bowlers on your fingers in ranjhi ball dosent bounce abve knee hight but on SA wickets you going to face chin music

  • SurlyCynic on December 12, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Why, did the airline lose their kit bags on the way over from India?

  • sixesandfours on December 12, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    India should keep experienced Dhoni in place of Sachin batting place. That leaves battign order in proper place and select 4 pacers with Jadeja as specialist spinner. Keep Ashwin bench as he is mediocore in SA, ENG, AUS pitches and focus on ging 100 percent with batting support. PLay XI for India - 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India. God Bless!!!

  • on December 12, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Sorry there should be no Jadeja and Ishant in tests team. Team Should be: Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Rahane, Rohit, Kohli, Ashwin, Dhoni, Shami, Zaheer, Umesh.

  • nainil0683 on December 12, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    While I have full confidence in Pujara's abilities, his show in South Africa remains to be eagerly seen. He failed last time around here, but he was very new to International cricket that time. He had recently toured South Africa with the A team and scored heavily so that would certainly help him psychologically. It's always good to feel better when you have scored runs in India, but South Africa is a different ball game. It really does not matter how many doubles or triples you score in India, because it becomes 0 on South African conditions. It is a real test of character, technique and temperament which we all expect Pujara to fight it out. Hats off to legends like Sachin and Dravid for scoring so consistently around the world. That's why I always feel that BCCI should create few tracks which match South African wickets which will give our batsmen good experience to face those teams in their backyard. Batting for hours in same home conditions would not help you outside India.