Bouncers at India's Door - The New Indian Express

Bouncers at India's Door

Published: 18th December 2013 01:53 AM

Last Updated: 18th December 2013 01:53 AM

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said his young team has accepted the fact that the iconic Sachin Tendulkar is no longer available and they will have to “move on” and concentrate on the job at hand.

The post-Tendulkar era in Indian cricket begins here on Wednesday when the visitors take on a formidable South African side in what will be the real test of character for this new look Indian batting. “With the last Test match we played in India, it is 100 percent sure that Sachin won’t be available for any more international series. It was always good to have him, but now that he won’t be there, we have to concentrate on what he have in our hands. We have accepted that fact and moved on,” Dhoni said.

This is the first time since November 1996, that all four batting stalwarts from the last two decades, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly will be missing from the Indian line-up. It has been a roller-coaster last few seasons for the Indian cricket with the ignominy of having lost 0-8 in Test matches in England and Australia. They have partially pulled it back with six back to-back Test match victories at home.

“Every series is a fresh start. There is no point bringing excess baggage. It is about getting used to conditions and offering what the team has. There are plenty of youngsters in this side, who will get exposure by playing competitive cricket at the Test level. So it’s a big positive for us,” Dhoni said.

Having already conceded the ODI series 0-2, there have also been question marks on the Indian team’s preparations going into the two-Test series, against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, who have dominated the proceedings so far.

“At Benoni, we could have batted on the first day and made the opposition field on a wet outfield. But that would have been selfish of us because they also have a First-Class season going on. Nobody wanted to get injured so it was good for both teams that the match was abandoned. We did practice on the centre wicket and got the most out of it,” said Dhoni.

The wicket at Wanderers will afford pace and bounce as always but it looks different from the ODI match that India played. “The wicket here will certainly assist the fast bowlers initially. The id­e­al length anywhere is to bo­w­l at the top of off-stump and the bo­wlers have picked it up now they have played a few ODIs here. So it will be very crucial to bowl well, esp­ecially with the new ball because early wickets can put pr­essure on the middle-ord­er,” said the Indian capta­in.

Dhoni expects that veteran Zaheer Khan will guide the younger crop of pace bowlers as well lead the attack with a good show. “Zaheer has plenty of experience and at the same time he will guide the younger bowlers, leading the attack. Ashwin’s role is also very crucial because he won’t get the same kind of assistance he gets back in the sub continent. The way he bowls in the first innings will be different from the way he bowls in the second innings here,” Dhoni added.

Asked about who will be batting at No 4, Dhoni replied: “Wait and watch!”

[Watch Video: Dhoni - Need to Bowl Well]

Test of Character for India: Smith

South African skipper Graeme Smith sought to play mindgames ahead of the Test series against India, saying the fast and bouncy tracks here will be a real “test of character” for the young Indian batting line-up.

“They are a hugely talented bunch but very different from the Indian line-up we are accustomed to play against,” said Smith, referring to the transitional period that this Indian team is going through.

“Touring different parts of the world is a test of character and it is going to be so for them in the next two Test matches,” seasoned South African skipper said.

For Smith, the biggest advantage is that the Wanderers pitch not only has bounce but also seam movement which can add to the worry of the Indians. “It is effective for all bowlers, not only the bounce but there is also a seam movement that benefits the seam bowlers if they pitch it in the right areas.

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