India have played six Test series in South Africa but never managed to win any with the best result for the tourists coming in the 2010-11 three-match series which ended in a 1-1 draw. The two countries have played 17 Tests in South Africa with India managing to win just two and losing eight. The other seven Tests ended in a draw. But under Virat Kohli the team is looking to change the scenario and is hoping to register its first series win in South Africa.
Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar who was part of the first Indian team that toured South Africa in 1992-93 opines that Kohli’s boys can script history against Faf du Plessis’ team. In an interview to The Times of India, Tendulkar claimed that while South Africa remain a strong team at home, they do not have allrounders of the calibre of Jonty Rhodes, Brian McMillan and Jacques Kallis. Quality allrounders have provided the depth to South Arica in terms of batting, bowling and even fielding. Tendulkar called with Rhodes “the most amazing guy” he had seen on a cricket field when it came to fielding.
Recalling his first tour of South Africa, Tendulkar said that even the second and third rung teams there have immense potential. He pointed out that South Africa are a highly competitive side. “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 was a huge eye-opener for us,” he told The Times of India.
Tendulkar added that India’s start will be crucial as the batsmen will be tested by the South African pacers. The Indian batsmen will have to be extremely careful in tackling the new ball and at the same time score runs. He pointed out while start is important even in India, the crucial phase of a match is from about the 18th to the 50th over and the reverse swing comes into play by the 70th over by when the batsman has the time to adjust. But in Australia and South Africa the first 25 overs can change the game. He advised the Indian batsmen to maintain discipline, be sure about their footwork which is not only how one prepares physically but also mentally. According to Tendulkar, the secret to successfully play the new ball and the pacers is to not flash but play close to the body.