Graeme Smith feels that India’s “top three”, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, and Rohit Sharma, will be the visitor’s main threats in the tour of South Africa. The former SA skipper also added that these players have become more technically sound than they were in the 2013 tour to the African nation.
Although much has been said about India’s brilliant top-order that has been so prolific in the last two years or so, the team is yet to play a game in the testing conditions after the 2014-15 tour Down Under. The South Africa series offers the Indian team a chance to challenge that notion and for the team to do well, Indian batsmen will have to face the troika of Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, and Morne Morkel with elan. And Smith has already warned the visiting side about the upcoming challenges, but the 36-year-old is confident that India will perform comparatively well this time, thanks to their batting prowess.
"The top three are winning a lot of cricket games. Not only are they consistent, prolific run-getters, they also get it at pace. Each of them has a strike rate of 90 and above. It's exciting to watch them,” Smith told Star Sports.
"This top three will go to South Africa as better players. Since the last tour, they have all grown in stature. Virat had a decent tour [in 2013]. He has got even better. He has gone to the next level. Rohit, I think, is a better player than what he was when he came to South Africa [last time]. Shikhar has improved.”
India's record in South Africa is pretty poor and the team has only registered two wins in 17 matches with their best performance being a 1-1 stalemate in the three-match series in 2010-11. Last time, India visited the nation in 2013-14, Smith was the captain of the home side and led the team to a 1-0 win.
"They all go with more experience, they are better players not only mentally, but also technically. If they [India] are to be successful, their top three, both in the Test format and in the one-day format, need to have big tours," said Smith, who was a part of the expert panel for the BCCI’s official broadcasters.
After the three-match T20I series, against Sri Lanka, that starts on Wednesday at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, India will leave for South Africa to play a full series, comprising three Tests, six ODIs, and three T20Is. The first Test match of the series starts on January 5 in Cape Town.