Kepler Wessels, the former South Africa captain, says India will pay the price if they underestimate South Africa in the upcoming Test series. However, he believes South Africa have erred by not opting to play any warm-up matches ahead of the three-Test series.
"I think India will make a mistake if they underestimate South Africa," Wessels told Cricinfo. "South Africa have a very good side, especially a good bowling attack. They are playing good, confident cricket and have had a good experience of subcontinental conditions after winning in Pakistan and Bangladesh."
Wessels picked Dale Steyn as the chief threat for India and believed he will work well with Morne Morkel to "give the Indian top order something to think about." He was impressed with Steyn's growth as a bowler and in particular, his ability to perform on the subcontinent. "He is a formidable player. He keeps the ball up and swings it at pace. That has helped him to do well in the subcontinent."
Nevertheless, he believed India can do the damage if they put pressure on Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, around whom the South African batting will revolve. "If India can get them out, they can put lots of pressure on South Africa. Neil McKenzie [who opened in the Bangladesh series] has a good technique and will try to occupy the crease and get through the new ball but those two tend to hold the batting lineup. The absence of Shaun Pollock as a batsman will be felt. He was a good player of spin and could have done a good job at No 8."
Wessels said the presence of Gary Kirsten, India's coach, and Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning coach, would be a big advantage to India. "Gary and Paddy Upton know the South African players well and will make sure the Indian team is prepared for the opposition. In a professional setup they are obviously going to make use of that knowledge."