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Ravi Shastri in Mumbai 18 December 2013 - 03:25pm IST

‘Hungry Kallis a threat to India’

Ravi Shastri asks India to beware of Amla and Philander too

The South Africans have every right and reason to be extremely confident going into the Wanderers Test against India. They have proved to be the better team in their conditions in the ODIs in all aspects. While their core group will remain the same in the Tests, there will be a few changes, especially on the batting front.

The South African batting:

The hosts are likely to play Alviro Petersen as the opening partner to Graeme Smith. Both these players did not play in the one-day series and so will be fresh going into the Tests. It could also prove a good thing for the Indian bowlers as the battle will begin afresh too.

Talking about the other Proteas batsmen, I think Hashim Amla is a tremendous player in all formats of the game. He has got all the shots in the book and is very organized about his technique. He understands his game. He is one player on whom you have to keep the pressure early on because once he is in he is very difficult to contain.

The other man who will pose a challenge to India is Jacques Kallis. He hasn’t scored much in his last few Test innings and is due for a big score. India must be careful with him there. The ideal way to keep him under pressure would be by getting him out early in the first couple of innings. If India do that, the pressure will start showing on Kallis because he is not getting younger by the day.

Also, I think in the Test matches there will be a specialist wicketkeeper (Thami Tsolekile) and AB de Villiers will play as a batsman simply because in a five-day game it will be too much work for him to double up as a keeper.

The fact that Zaheer Khan is back for India will make the Proteas a bit cautious. Having said that India will also have to overcome one of the strongest middle-orders in Test contemporary cricket, comprising Hasim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy.

The South African bowling:

I believe in all probability South Africa will go with an all-pace attack. One might focus on Morne Morkel or Dale Steyn but you have to be careful of people like Vernon Philander because he is someone who will come and take three or four wickets without anyone realising. The focus has to be there, you cannot drop your guard against him. He is a bowler who knows his limitations and bowls within them.

India’s challenge

The young Indian batting lineup will have to ensure that in the first 20 overs they don’t lose more than two wickets. But this is Test cricket, India are a young side and so my expectations are not that high. India will be a very good Test team two years down the line. So I am looking ahead and not for immediate results.

I just want them to cope with the conditions. I want them to fight it out and show the opposition that they are ready to compete. Players like Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have got the shots and the mettle to take on the South African pace attack. I would want them to get in first and spend some time in the middle instead of looking to attack from the outset.

(As told to Prajakta Pawar)