Ex-skipper Mohammed Azharuddin feels Indian batsmen shouldn't panic against star South African leg-spinner
Kolkata: While Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and several other former Indian cricketers have called South African spinner Imran Tahir a big threat to the Indian batters when the two teams kick off their 72-day tour with a T20 series in Dharamsala tomorrow, former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin felt the Proteas leg-spinner should not be treated like Shane Warne.
South Africa is set to play three T20 Internationals, followed by five ODIs and four Tests. Azharuddin, who was the Indian captain in 1991 when South Africa returned to international cricket after their 21-year exile, felt the Indian batsmen should not panic against Tahir.
"I gather that people are afraid of Imran. He is a good bowler, very accurate and intelligent, but he is not Shane Warne. We should not allow him to dominate. We did not do well against spin bowling against Sri Lanka and critics feel we have forgotten to bat against spinners. Actually, we went into a shell in the first Test at Galle.
We allowed them to dominate us. We should not allow Imran to settle down from the first ball. We should not panic while facing him," Azharuddin said before boarding the flight from New Delhi to Hyderabad after learning about his father's ill health.
'India can beat SA'
Azharuddin did not see any reason for India to not win the Test series against South Africa. "India is strong at home. I don't think India cannot win against South Africa (in Tests). "India is playing the first Test at Mohali where in the early part of the season I do not see the ball turning much.
South African spinner Imran Tahir during a training session ahead of their first T20 warm-up tie at Palam Ground in New Delhi on Monday. Pic/AFP
It is up to the Indian team management to decide their combination. Our strength is in the batting department. If our batsmen deliver, we will be in the driver's seat," said Azharuddin.
Azharuddin felt Indian bowlers should not allow South African batsmen Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis to settle down. "South Africa is a well balanced side. I do not know who are their openers are.
It is their middle-order consisting of Amla, De Villiers and Faf who are dangerous. South Africa's batting depends on these three batsmen," said the former Member of Parliament.
Azharuddin recalled the unforgettable reception the Indian team received from the South Africans during the 1992-93 series. "They were coming back from international exile. Many good players emerged from that series.
I cannot forget the reception we got in South Africa. They proved that although they were out of international cricket for 21 years, they never neglected the game," he signed off.