India will begin a three-ODI, two-Test series in South Africa tomorrow. While India has performed well at home against West Indies and Australia in 2013 it will be a different challenge on the hard and bouncy pitches of South Africa.
India can definitely give a good fight to South Africa in the ODIs as the visiting side is in good touch.
But I am more interested in watching how India performs in the two Tests against Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.
India will be playing for the first time overseas with newly formed batting lineup with Sikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane at the helm.
Dhawan and Vijay will first time face Steyn and company and it’ll be a tough test for the openers to prove that they have it in them to perform, not only on Indian pitches but also on foreign soil against a good pace attack.
Pujara at number three has played in the last series in South Africa and struggled to get going and score runs, so it will be interesting to see how he copes this time around.
The new number four will most probably be Kohli who has been in sublime form recently, scoring consistently, but he has also not played on South African pitches and it’ll be a huge challenge for him to maintain his form.
Rohit Sharma again has good opportunity to continue his form and it will be a good contest for him on bouncy and hard pitches.
In terms of the bowling attack, Zaheer Khan’s selection for tests was on expected lines considering his experience and also the fact that other bowlers don’t have much experience of playing on foreign soil.
So Zaheer has the task to not only spearhead the attack, but also guide youngsters like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
I would play Shami and Yadav as the pacemen in the lineup, as both of them have good pace which is needed to tackle strong South African batting lineup.
R Ashwin is likely to play in the spin department, and will be tested against good batsmen who play spin well.
He will have it tough considering his performance is not so great overseas.
This tour of South Africa is one of many overseas tour India will be playing and it will be a tough challenge for team India to come good and the players will be tested thoroughly against good bowlers and batsmens.
This will be a Test series definitely to look forward to.