Sports

Faf du Plessis: South Africa out for revenge against India

Author: DILEEP PREMACHANDRANThu, 2018-01-04 22:44ID: 1515094035474650600CAPE TOWN: Faf Du Plessis admits his South Africa side are out for revenge when their much-awaited three-Test series against India gets underway at Newlands on Friday.
Back in 2015, the Proteas, who had not lost an away series for nearly a decade, were thumped 3-0 in India, on pitches tailor-made for the home spinners.
But now about to play Virat Kohli and Co. on their own patch the South Africa skipper was adamant that the hosts wanted to dish out some pain of their own.
“I don’t know when the next Test series against India is, but it’s probably the last time all of us play against India and there’s no better way than playing a series in South Africa,” said du Plessis, speaking of himself, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel.
“We were disappointed the last time we went there, and we’ve got a score to settle.”
Luckily for Du Plessis the numbers do not suggest anything other than a South African victory. In 17 Tests in South Africa going back to the first Friendship Series a quarter century ago, India have won just two to the hosts’ eight. And at Newlands, in the shadow of Table Mountain, South Africa’s record since they were readmitted to the international fold is an imposing 20-4. Other than Australia, no visiting team has tasted success here.
The big question Du Plessis and the selectors have to weigh up ahead of the toss is whether to risk Steyn, who has not played a Test in over a year. Given Vernon Philander’s dubious fitness record, it would be a big risk to play both him and Steyn in a four-man attack.
“For me, he is the best bowler in the world,” Du Plessis, who refused to confirm whether Steyn would play, he said.
“He hasn’t played for a while and he hasn’t got the overs under his legs that he would have wanted.
“But facing Dale in the nets, it feels like the skill hasn’t gone anywhere. He has got the same pace, and the same swing. Skill wise it’s like he has just jumped back on that bicycle and is riding again.”
Steyn’s contest with Sachin Tendulkar seven years ago was one of the highlights of Test cricket this century. Now, if he returns to the fray, he will be up against the man who has succeeded Tendulkar at No.4, and as Indian cricket’s biggest icon. Virat Kohli began the last series in South Africa (2013-14) with a dazzling hundred at The Wanderers, and followed it up with a second innings 96.
“He is a very good player, his stats don’t lie,” Du Plessis said.
“I am not going to tell you what the plans are. We are hoping we can put some pressure on him. If we can keep him quiet, we have a much better chance.”
India and Kohli eschewed a warm-up game in favor of more focused training sessions, and the captain was also not available to the media on the eve of the game. India have selection debates of their own to address. Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain, had a dreadful series against Sri Lanka, but has a tremendous record away from home. But if they opt to play only five batsmen, with Hardik Pandya selected as a seam-bowling all-rounder, then it could be the in-form Rohit Sharma that gets the nod at No.5.
Shikhar Dhawan’s recovery from an ankle injury means a straight choice between him and KL Rahul as Murali Vijay’s opening partner, and there will also be a toss-up between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav for the third seamer’s spot. With Ravindra Jadeja in hospital recovering from a viral infection, R Ashwin is certain to be the specialist spinner.
Sanjay Bangar, the assistant coach who mentors the batsmen, spoke of how the bowling group now possessed the nous to keep the pressure on.
“We have got Ishant Sharma who is having his third tour of South Africa and all the bowlers have been rotated really well keeping into account the workloads that they are going to encounter here,” he said.
“If you see the consistency that they have displayed in the home season where they bowled in pretty flat conditions, they have built a great sense of discipline in their bowling and I am pretty sure that that will help us in maintaining the pressure on opposition batsmen.”
Main category: SportsTags: South AfricaCricketIndiarelated_nodes: India must face up to South African pace for any series successIndia to face scrutiny of Test credentials on South Africa tourDu Plessis surprise at ICC over India spat

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