Sachin Tendulkar says Hardik Pandya gives Virat Kohli’s team edge in south africa
Indian team up to the first big challenge of this year, a lot of questions are waiting to be asked, and who better than Sachin Tendulkar to answer? Sachin Tendulkar is backing the Indian cricket team to win its first Test series in South Africa. The retired cricket icon, who has six Test hundreds against the Proteas, feels India have the experience and balance to come good in South Africa’s testing conditions. The first Test will be played in Cape Town from January 5 has to give an interview about the keys to doing well in one of the toughest cricketing destinations.
You’ve played South Africa right from the time they came back to international cricket. They’ve always been among the most competitive sides…When we went to South Africa for the first time, it didn’t take us long to realise what was coming our way. From the first game itself we realised the level of cricket they were playing. For instance, the warm-up game that we played against the Board’s President’s XI back then was a huge eye-opener for us. Even their second and third teams showed such immense potential. At each level, they were busy raising the bar. They’ve always been a competitive side in multiple ways.
Any combination of factors that works for them?
The thing with South Africa is that they’ve always enjoyed an amazing balance. The allrounders provide an air of authority. And by allrounders, I just don’t mean guys who could bat and bowl. To me, Jonty Rhodes is the most amazing guy I’ve ever seen on a cricket field when it came to fielding. I’ve seen many good fielders over the years. Ponting, Gibbs, they were all exceptional. But Jonty was something different. Likewise, when I speak of allrounders, look at the transition that happened from Brian McMillan to Jacques Kallis.
Kallis and McMillan could walk into any team. Today’s South Africa doesn’t have similar arsenal…
A batsman used to be their fourth fast bowler (Kallis
) or they had a bowler who could bat at No. 6 (McMillan). These were elements to a side that just changed the entire outlook when they took field. They had set very high standards. Today, South Africa don’t have that luxury.I’m not saying they’re not a good team. They’ve been among the best at home and away over a sustained period of time. But they don’t enjoy the luxury they did when the likes of McMillan and Kallis were around. I’m talking about a time when a batsman in the team could be that extra bowler or that bowler in the team could be counted upon to score the runs. And not just any batsman who could ball but one of the best allrounders ever (Kallis).The start is what matters more than anything else?
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.
There’s hardly a secret to what kind of wickets South Africa will offer. Eden track was specifically prepared for this purpose. Your views…
The Kolkata pitch India played on in the (recent) Test was a different one (against Sri Lanka). There was movement. Even the ODI Mohali 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.
Even if pace-friendly wickets are laid out (in India), it’s still a different ballgame playing in South Africa or England or Australia…
In India, the new ball is important but the crucial phase for a batsman begins from the 18th to the 20th over, if it’s an SG ball, and until the 40th to 50th over it’s a very dangerous phase. If the wicket is flat, the ball reverse swings during these overs. The ball will swing later too, but it is likely to swing at a different pace. It’ll also reverse swing at 70 overs, but the batsman can adjust because you get the time. Now, what happens when you play abroad? Away from our conditions, the first 25 overs get critical. The new ball and the movement it gets, that’s the crucial phase for a sub-continent batsman touring overseas.
A lot goes on in the mind of a batsman when at the crease. There could be multiple factors on mind. But the obvious aside, what’s the key when playing the new ball?Discipline. That’s the key. And then it’s about footwork, but footwork is more about the mind. If the mind is free, then the feet are free. These are two important aspects. A lot depends on what state of mind you are in, whether you’re complicating things inside your mind or just keeping it simple.Whatever works, as long as you’re in the right frame. And discipline, which has to come from within. It has to come instinctively and learn what to play, what to leave. What works for one may work differently for another. I’d leave that to the individual.
India will be on the road for most of 2018. Do you think this will be the toughest phase for Virat Kohli’s Team India?Yes. It will be a good challenge to play in seaming conditions in South Africa and England. It’s about the Indian team and not about any individual. As a team India is very well prepared.
Do you reckon Virat Kohli will be under pressure as a captain and batsman?Virat Kohli will succeed if the team succeeds. Virat should just play his normal game and stick to the basics. The team should rally around him. India can only succeed if they can put up good totals. Runs will matter and not only Virat, but the entire team has to contribute. So, it’s not only about Virat Kohli.
Why is Pandya an asset? Simply because he can do the job of the fourth seamer, bat like a good middle-order batsman and is a good fielder. For the first time India can afford to play with three genuine seamers. Never before could we think of three pacers and a fourth one to fall back on — not even during Kapil Dev’s time could we enjoy this luxury. At best we would play with three quicks with Manoj Prabhakar being one of them. But this team is just so well balanced.]]>