India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, expressed his team’s focus on minimizing damage in challenging conditions as they gear up for the upcoming Boxing Day Test against South Africa in Centurion. Despite India’s previous successes overseas, South Africa remains unconquered territory for them. Dravid acknowledged the team’s history in South Africa, highlighting past performances and missed opportunities to win a Test series.
“We’ve been coming here since 1992 onwards. We have played good cricket in South Africa, we’ve won a few Test matches and have had some good draws as well,” said Dravid. “There have been good performances from our boys in the last 30 years. But we’ve not been able to win a Test series. There have been a few Tests where we had the opportunity but couldn’t capitalize on it.”
Dravid emphasized the importance of starting well in the short series, noting the limited time for a comeback. He highlighted the challenge of facing pitches with significant bounce and seam movement, making batting tough.
“It’s a short series this time, there will be little time to bounce back, so if you don’t start well, there could be no margin for making a comeback. The main challenge here is the fact that the pitches have a lot of bounce and seam movement. It can be tough for batting.”
Dravid stressed the need to avoid losing too many wickets in a session and to capitalize on opportunities to score runs, considering that wickets are likely to fall.
“The tracks are result-oriented. It can happen that if a bad session happens, you can be far behind in the game. So the key is to minimize damage in case of a bad session, like you shouldn’t lose 6-7 wickets in a session. In batting those extra 50-60 runs have to be made because 20 wickets will fall for sure. So, the team that bats better will win.”
“People might say that this is our best chance, we do have a good team but we know that we have to play really well to play South Africa at home. Their record in these conditions in the last 30 years is very good, they don’t lose often just like India don’t lose much in India. So that’s exciting, and I know we have to play really well.”
Dravid also touched upon the challenges of playing in South Africa, where conditions favor fast bowlers. He expressed confidence in India’s ability to perform well despite the statistical difficulty of playing in South Africa.
“Statistically it has been one of the toughest countries but we’ve also put in some good batting performances. It’s not that it’s been impossible to play here, or difficult to play here.”
As for the return of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to the Test squad after the 2023 ODI World Cup final, Dravid acknowledged the disappointment but emphasized the team’s focus on moving forward.
“It was a disappointment but you have to move on quickly in international cricket because there is another series coming up. All of these series count towards trying to qualify towards another ICC event in 2025. You don’t have the time to stay down all the time.
Dravid expressed optimism about India’s prospects in the upcoming Test series against South Africa, emphasizing the team’s readiness to face the challenges and perform at their best.