Bangalore: Indian Team Director Ravi Shastri yesterday said that South Africa are still a formidable side despite the retirement of some big players recently but his side will continue their aggressive brand of cricket in the upcoming series beginning on October 2.
Skipper MS Dhoni with Team Director Ravi Shastri during the training camp for the upcoming series against South Africa at NCA in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI
“It is like asking me about Indian team without (Sachin) Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble — players will come and go, but you got to respect the fact that SA are world number one side (in Tests). We know what we are up against,” Shastri said at a press conference when asked about the visiting side who are coming without the likes of retired Jacques Kallis.
‘A stiff opposition’
“South Africa are a stiff opposition. They play well in overseas conditions. They travel better than any other side in world cricket and their record will show that. We respect them but we won’t take any backward steps,” he told reporters at the National Cricket Academy where Indian team is holding a camp.
South Africa are coming to India for a more than two-month long tour which begins with a limited overs series. After a T20 practice game in Delhi on September 29, South Africa play three T20Is against India in Dharmasala (Oct 2), Cuttack (Oct 5) and Kolkata (Oct 8), followed by ODIs in Kanpur (Oct 11), Indore (Oct 14), Rajkot (Oct 18), Chennai (Oct 22) and Mumbai (Oct 25).
The Test matches will be played at Mohali (Nov 5-9), Bangalore (Nov 14-18), Nagpur (Nov 25-29) and Delhi (Dec 3-7).
‘No problem at all’
The former India all-rounder brushed aside any talk of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s possible rustiness to lead the side against South Africa in the limited over matches. “No problem at all. You are talking about a season campaigner, one of the legends, one of the all-time greats in world cricket and not only of Indian cricket, you know I am saying as a captain. He (Dhoni) takes over a job he has been doing and so it is nothing new,” Shastri said.
Asked it’s high time that Dhoni bats up the order, Shastri said the captain himself will take a call on the day. He said it’s time for him to enjoy the game because he had been doing “dirty work” for years.
“Don’t you think it is about time? He has done the dirty work for donkey’s years. Give him a chance to enjoy himself. You are talking of probably the greatest ODI captains and players. Don’t worry about MS he will decide on the day whether to bat up the order,” he said.
Shastri also made it clear that the five bowler theory adopted in Test by Virat Kohli was not a permanent strategy and team combination will depend on the playing conditions and the rivals.
Indian team Director Ravi Shastri yesterday said he would soon consult India ‘A’ coach Rahul Dravid to identify players who are ready for top-level cricket so as to strengthen an already strong talent pool. “We have a very good bench strength. In fact, I am going to have a chat with Rahul Dravid to find out talents, not necessarily been among runs and wickets,” Shastri said.
“If somebody is getting runs in heaps and taking wickets regularly, that’s fine, but there may be talents who haven’t scored heaps of runs and yet they are ready for top-level cricket,” he said.