Indian captain Virat Kohli said on Saturday (30) that his Indian team had the ability to gain a first series win in South Africa.
“We have the right kind of bowling attack and the right kind of balance to win Test matches in any conditions we play in,” he said at the Indian team’s arrival press conference.
The first of the three Test matches starts at Newlands on Friday.
Kohli baulked, though, when it was suggested his team had a chance to make history.
“For us it is about winning sessions, being in the present, executing our skills well, not looking at the history of a particular country we are playing in.”
With 13 of his 17-man squad veterans of India’s 2013/14 tour, Kohli said there was plenty of experience.
“A lot of our players have played here before. But it’s about the number of games we had played then and the number we have played now,” said Kohli. “We all understand our own games so much better. As a team we have confidence in our personal skills set.”
Kohli said team spirit was the outstanding feature of the touring party. “There’s a sense of intelligence and awareness and that provides the excitement. We know exactly what we need to do come game time. We know how to win Test matches.”
Kohli said India had made the right decision to cancel a scheduled two-day warm-up match, opting instead for intensive middle-wicket practice at a local club.
“There’s no point in wasting two days, guys going in and scoring quick fifties,” said Kohli. “We’d rather have them do two sessions like today. We can try and prepare the wickets the way we want them. If you are playing a game there is no room to change the wicket. Here you have the freedom to put more water on the wicket, roll it and make it harder so that tomorrow we have the conditions we want.”
Kohli said his players expected to be challenged by South Africa’s fast bowlers on pitches with pace and bounce but they were confident in their own ability.
“Come the fifth of January we will be ready for it,” he said.
Coach Ravi Shastri said: “This team is up for the challenge. If you had asked me four years ago I would have said no. But this team has gained in experience. The beauty of this team is that it doesn’t matter which opposition. We look at the pitch and adapt to the conditions. Every game is a home game. It’s as simple as that.”
Shastri added: “This will be a contest. I can sense our players want this Test match to start as soon as possible.”