Current ICC match referee and former India speedster Javagal Srinath was the first genuine quick bowler to come out of India. He was also part of the Indian team that created history by touring South Africa in 1992, making them the first nation to play cricket in the post apartheid era in the rainbow nation.
Now, 25 years later, Virat Kohli and his men will do the same and try to beat the odds and win their first series in South Africa, when the first Test of the three match series starts on January 5th. Virat Kohli is optimistic of a series win this time around, as he feels he has the perfect fast bowling combination on the tour, which can fetch him 20 wickets to win in the South African conditions.
Javagal Srinath, known as the ‘Mysore Express’ and whose pace on the 1992 tour impressed one and all, feels the same and he called Bhuvneshwar Kumar the trump card for Team India.
He said, "This is the best fast bowling combination in India at the moment. I go by what I've seen in the last one-and-a-half years. I strongly feel Bhuvneshwar will be the strike bowler - or at least he should be treated like one. He should be used economically and in short spells. Over the past few months, he has been outstanding. He has added a couple of yards of pace to his deliveries and has been moving the ball with greater control."
Srinath said, "Bhuvneshwar swings the ball both ways and at alarming pace. With the kind of pace he gets, he can be a great asset for the team on South African wickets which usually have bounce and carry."
However, Srinath warned the team management from over bowling Bhuvneshwar. He said “He should not be used as second fiddle, where he is made to bowl donkey overs and is tired by the second or the third Test. He should be well-supported by the others."
When asked about how the young team will handle the pressure, Srinath said, "When it comes to handling pressure, I think, the IPL has fast-tracked players. In the IPL, they always play under pressure and players tend to learn more when under pressure. In that sense, I think they are all experts in handling pressure."
"The bowlers are champions with the white Kookaburra ball, but the red ball is very different. They have to get used to it as soon as possible. Winning these Test matches will depend a lot on how quickly they get used to the ball and how well they read local conditions. There has to be a minor adjustment in the way they pitch the ball," Srinath said about the difference in bowling with the red Kookaburra balls.
Srinath also spoke about the wickets that Virat and his team will get to play on this time.
He said, “I don't think we will get wickets like we used to 15 years ago. Most wickets are batting friendly these days. This means more work for the bowlers. If you are able to get 20 wickets in a Test match, it means the workload on the bowlers has increased 100%. That's why you cannot afford to make too many mistakes with line and length."
On been asked about the biggest challenge that the Indian team will face in South Africa, Srinath pointed out, "Adaptability is key. I think each wicket is different and we cannot generalise conditions. What matters will be the tactical adaptability to a particular pitch and during various sessions during a day. I'm sure they have the capacity and the capability to deliver in these matches. The only thing they have to make sure is that any bowler should not be bowling too many overs. They should be effective enough to get the opposition out in 100-120 overs in an innings. If that happens and the Indian batting clicks, I don't see a reason why we cannot dominate."