There has been a plenty of speculation concerning the sort of pitch India will be greeted within the first Test against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town.
Historically Indian batsmen have struggled to cope up against the extra bounce of Proteas wickets. Apart from Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, no other Indian batsman has managed to compile 2 Test centuries on South African soil. No wonder, the current No. 1 Test team have won only 2 Tests out of the 17 which they had played in the rainbow nation since their readmission to cricket back in 1992.
Talking about India’s most difficult tour of recent times, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who has piled up 5 Test tons on South African pitches, has said that the visitor’s fortune will depends on how they will tackle the new ball.
“The first spell is going to be very critical. A lot depends on how we tackle the new ball. If we handle the new ball well then we can actually set the pace for the innings. Getting runs on the board is the key. Regardless of it all, it all depends on how you do on Day One,” Tendulkar said in an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz.
Talking about the hosts bowling attack which will be bolstered by the return of certain Dale Steyn, Sachin said: “If fully fit, it's a very formidable attack. Dale Steyn is still good with the new and the old ball. Morne Morkel can be very handy in home conditions. I've not played (Kagiso) Rabada but from what I've seen, he likes to pitch it up and can be very unpredictable. And if there are seaming tracks, then Vernon Philander can be very dangerous. You've got to wait and watch what kind of wickets they prepare. If they've got to make the best use of Philander, then my guess is they'll be dishing out seaming wickets.”
Tendulkar believes that conditions make a lot of difference in overseas Tests, but this Indian team have the versatility to adapt in any conditions.
“The Kolkata pitch India played on in the (recent) Test was a different one (against Sri Lanka). There was movement. Even the Mohali ODI track was different. Playing the new ball was the key. But again, one has to wait and watch what kind of tracks are laid out and the factors that revolve around it on that given day. I remember the 2011 Cape Town wicket when I played, had a lot of off-the-pitch movement. It's been a long time but I remember it was good to bat on. So you see, conditions make a lot of difference,” Sachin stated.
Indian batsmen are deemed as poor players of pace bowling. However, Tendulkar reckons that it’s just a narrative created by certain people and the reality is totally different since there are many Indian batters in recent past who have done considerably well in overseas conditions against the quality pacers.
"The batsmen I played with - Sehwag, Sourav, Rahul and Laxman - have all played and scored against quality pace. I don't think that's the case,” concluded Tendulkar.