Former India spinner Sunil Joshi believes Virat Kohli & Co. can triumph in South Africa if the batsmen manage to negate the threat possessed by Proteas’ dominant pace attack and the bowlers could manage to take 20 wickets in a game.
Speculations are high that the current team can create history by powering the nation to its first series win in the Rainbow nation. Currently ranked number one in the world, India is yet to lose a series under Virat Kohli, having registered series wins over Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
“India has a formidable team in terms of fast bowlers required to bowl well on seaming conditions. It would be challenging for Indian batsmen to negotiate the fast bowling of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. Considering that all these four fast bowlers were rested, rotated, it will be a good, competitive series. If we can bat well, if top six post 400 plus runs, then we should be able to win the series,” Joshi told International Business Times.
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Joshi further said the onus will be not only on skipper Virat Kohli but every other batsmen in the top six to take care of the scoreboard.
“Every team likes major contribution from the captain and it is the same for Virat Kohli. However, it is not only about Kohli, it is about all other batsmen – KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha,” he said.
It is about all top-six batsmen. Whoever those six are, they must ensure that India have 400 plus runs. Then only you can get into a winning position. You need to give this score to help fast bowlers take 20 wickets. It is not easy, you have to take 20 wickets to win a Test. The conditions will be tough,” he added.
Barring Rahane, all of India’s batsmen looked in fine form in the last Test series against Sri Lanka. While Kohli led the way by scoring a century and two double centuries in the three-Test series, the likes of Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma also notched up hundreds.
One of the conundrums for the Indian team-management would be to finalise the bowling lineup. With conditions in South Africa likely to suit the pacers, it is expected that either one of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would make it to the playing eleven. Joshi, however, feels that India should play both of them. The former spinner went on to say that the team should include five bowlers in the playing eleven for the upcoming series.
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“Honestly speaking both should play. Jadeja and Ashwin are all-rounders. Let them deliver with both bat and ball. They are not just bowlers, they are classified as all-rounders. They have got hundreds in Test matches. If you want to win the series, you have to play five bowlers. Virat Kohli and the team management should decide who are India’s best five bowlers and they should pick them. It could be a combination of both pace and spin. You cannot win Test matches without five bowlers and that too in South Africa,” he opined.
When asked about what should be India’s pace composition for the series, he said:
“It is difficult. If Mohammed Shami is fit, he is my man. If Shami has fitness issues then I would go with Umesh Yadav. He is very strong and bowled well for Vidarbha recently in the Ranji Trophy semi-final (against Karnataka). Shami also played the semis for Bengal against Delhi. I watched both games. Considering the past track record, Umesh will be much more harder to negotiate for South Africa batsmen because of his pace and bounce. If Shami stays fit entire series, he will definitely be the key. Spinners too have to contribute. The bowlers have to deliver against the best sides.
Meanwhile, the Test series will kick-start from January 5 in Capetown. The three-match Test series will be followed by six One-Day Internationals and 3 T20 Internationals.
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