Former South African skipper Graeme Smith has heaped praise on Virat Kohli but believes that the Indian skipper and his team will face a completely different challenge in South African conditions. India visits South Africa in January and February next year for four Tests, five ODIs, and two T20Is.
The 36-year-old South African has faced off against Virat Kohli on numerous occasions previously and believes that the 28-year-old skipper has been the catalyst to India’s dominance in the game over the past one year. However, Smith believes that Kohli and company are yet to face the challenge of fast pitches outside the country.
“India have been doing quite well in Test cricket. A lot can be attributed to how Virat Kohli has been playing Test cricket and inspiring teammates. I think the conditions in South Africa will be very different for the Indian team,” Hindustan Times quoted Smith as saying.
“They have been playing either at home or in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean where the ball comes a bit slow. The conditions in South Africa will be the real test for the Indians", he added.
After a 3-0 clean sweep in the Test Series against Sri Lanka on their turf, India sealed the ODI series too with a six-wicket win in the third game of the five- match series on Sunday. Moreover, barring the shock loss to Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final in June, the Men in Blue have been brilliant in both ODIs as well as Tests since the beginning of the year.
Smith, however, thinks that the Proteas' bowlers could make things difficult for the touring Indian side while the South African batting order could excel with a different combination. “It would be interesting to see how Indians fare against (Kagiso) Rabada, (Morne) Morkel, (Vernon) Philander and Keshav Maharaj. Also, having Dale Steyn back in the side would work for the South African team. He has done well against the Indians and having his experience would mean a lot for South Africa," Smith remarked
I think the South African batsmen will have to score big. The batting department looks a bit unsettled. Also, the combination South Africa chooses will make a difference," he added.
The last time India had visited South Africa for Test series was back in December 2013, when they lost the 2- match series 1-0 with South Africa absolutely dominating the second Test in Durban before sealing a comprehensive 10 wicket win in their favor. India will be looking right that wrong on the upcoming tour as they visit the Rainbow nation in January and February next year for four Tests, five ODIs, and two T20Is.