Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be key batsmen in South Africa, believes Graeme Smith

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Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be key batsmen in South Africa, believes Graeme Smith

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SportsCafe Desk


Graeme Smith has claimed that Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be the key players for the upcoming South Africa series which will start on January 5. Smith has further added that victories in foreign conditions will establish that the Team India as the real powerhouse in world cricket.

After finishing the ongoing Sri Lanka series, India will play against second-placed South Africa away from home - a place where they have never won a Test series. Cricket pundits consider the series as the real test for the Indian side because it will be a real challenge for the team to play on the fast pitches that South Africa has to offer.

Former South African skipper Smith agreed to the fact but he also added that Kohli and Pujara will be the top scorer for the blue brigade in the longest format of the game. The Indian skipper has played two Tests in South Africa scoring 272 runs at an average of 68.00 and his highest score on the African soil is 119. Pujara had the experience of playing four Tests in the African country in which he has scored 311 runs in seven innings.

“I think the big challenge for India will be scoring runs. If they can post big totals, they have a good batting line-up, then they will be able to put South Africa under pressure. Pujara and Kohli will be the key batsmen. These are the two players who played well the last time so they will be the key,” Smith said as quoted by PTI.

In the 2015-16 series, the South African team visited India for the Freedom Trophy where they lost the four-match Test match series 3-0. Smith stated that the Proteas will try to overcome their last defeat and they must be motivated by the inclusion of AB de Villiers, who played his last Test against England in January 2016. 

“I think South Africa will be very strong. With AB de Villiers coming back, their batting looks a lot stronger. The bowling too is really powerful. They have got four really outstanding experienced pacers to choose from and a couple of young pacers as well,” he said.

Since 1992, India has played six series in South Africa but they have failed to win a single series over there. For the preparation for the upcoming tour, Team India demanded fast tracks in India while playing the Test series against Sri Lanka, so that they can acclimatize with the threats that will be posed by the SA pace attack which includes the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, and Kagiso Rabada. 

The 36-year-old backed the hosts to maintain their unbeaten run against India at home. He believed that apart from Indian batsmen if pacers performed well then the visitors have a chance to win the series.

“If India are going to be successful then their three seamers would need to bowl really well,” Smith said.

“In India, they bowl short spells and try and make an impact but in South Africa, they will have to carry a lot more responsibility under pressure, bowl long spells. The seamers will have to win the game for India. It is a very different mindset than what you have in the subcontinent and it remains to be seen if they can carry that and handle responsibility.”

After playing the major part of 2017 at home, India is scheduled to visit foreign countries as after the South Africa tour they will be traveling to England and Australia. Smith supported his team but didn’t predict the result of the series as he believed that under Kohli’s captaincy Team India have the capability to prove themselves as the best team in the world.

“I know for sure that Virat will be hugely motivated to have a big year. If they can go on to have a 2018 where they win in South Africa, England and Australia, that will put this Indian team in an iconic place,” he said.

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