Ravi Shastri: It's tough for us, but we will make it tough for Proteas too
Team India Coach Ravi Shastri admits India batsmen's challenge in South Africa, but vows to give it back
India coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli address the media yesterday. Pics/Atul Kamble
First, the microphone conked off and then the lights went out for a while as India skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri addressed the media on the eve of their departure to South Africa for the three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is, starting January 5. However, the Indian captain-coach duo promised to deliver a glitches-free performance as they embark on their South Africa tour in the hope of registering India's maiden Test series victory there on the seventh attempt.
After being unbeaten in bilateral series in 2017, which was mostly played in home conditions, the coming year will test Team India's mettle as they will encounter testing pitches with tours to South Africa, England and Australia. During yesterday's press conference, there were signs that the Indian team will fight fire with fire, a similar approach that Kohli-Shastri opted for during the series against South Africa in 2015-16 when India won 3-0.
"If it is going to be tough for our batsmen, our job is to make it tough for their batsmen as well," stated Shastri while adding to Kohli's response on whether South Africa is the toughest assignment for Indian batsmen. "It all depends on what kind of a mindset you get into as a batsman," Kohli said. "Any place, even Indian conditions can be very difficult if you are not in a good frame of mind. Cricket is not just played with a ball and bat. If you are not there mentally, it does not matter under what conditions you are playing in. You need to be able to take up the challenges mentally and then every condition seems like home. If you get accustomed to where you are going, then you start feeling comfortable. Last time as well, I was really looking forward to playing in South Africa, so was Pujara and Jinks (Rahane). So we ended up doing well because we were excited about what we were going to do. I think that excitement is very important to maintain," Kohli added.
During India's last tour to South Africa (a two-Test series in 2013-14), Cheteshwar Pujara top-scored with 280 runs followed by Kohli (272) and Ajinkya Rahane (209). While the next 18 months could dilute Kohli & Co's good work in home conditions, it also provides the team a golden opportunity to shed the 'lions at home, lambs abroad' tag. Shastri stressed these 18 months will define this Indian team. "The fact that they have been together for the last four to five years will stand them in good stead. The conditions will be testing, but like I've said before, this one and a half year will define this Indian cricket team and the whole team is aware of that. With tours of South Africa, England and Australia coming up in the next year and a half, all I can say is that this team will be a better cricket side after those 18 months," Shastri said.
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