South African captain Graeme Smith warned yesterday that India’s inexperienced batsmen will face a tough challenge from South Africa’s fast bowlers in the two-match series which starts at the Wanderers Stadium today.
“Obviously they’re hugely talented but it’s a very different line-up to the one I’ve become accustomed to playing against,” said Smith. “Touring in other parts of the world is a big test of character and that’s going to be on show in these two Test matches.”
Following the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, India’s likely top six have a total of 59 Test caps between them. Only Cheteshwar Pujara (two) and Murali Vijay (one) have played Test cricket in South Africa.
Asked whether his bowlers would seek to intimidate the Indians, Smith said his team would adopt the same approach that had taken them to No 1 in the Test rankings.
“The way we have played has been hugely successful for us. We play the game hard but there’s a huge respect factor for the game and our opposition. As the No 1 team, I would like to see us play some good cricket.”
Smith said he expected the new ball to be a factor at the Wanderers. “Both first innings are probably going to be tough. There’s a bit of moisture in that wicket and some good cracks. I expect it to be a normal Wanderers wicket of recent times, hopefully with good pace and bounce.”
Smith announced South Africa’s eleven for the Test, with Hashim Amla returning in place of Dean Elgar from the side that beat Pakistan by an innings in Dubai in October. Amla missed that match because he had flown home for the birth of his second child.
Smith said he wouldn’t lose any sleep worrying about past dismissals. “I’ve had enough battles with bowlers over the years. It’s another wonderful opportunity to front up to an outstanding bowler.”
South Africa’s playing XI: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wkt), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir