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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 1:54 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 1:55 AM (IST)

Time for last-minute revision

Two days before 1st Test, Vijay says he's more open-minded about his plans than last time

CAPE TOWN, January 3

Flexibility is the key while preparing for a difficult assignment and that’s precisely the reason why opener Murali Vijay has done his homework with an “open mind” compared to his previous tours of South Africa. “I am preparing myself to be a little more open-minded than I was last time. You cannot have a set pattern — you cannot go into a Test thinking that you are going to leave so many balls. You also have to be in a frame of mind to score runs,” Vijay said.

“If they bowl in good areas, then you have to try and counter that and come out stronger as well. These are the things I think which will be critical for us to move forward. I just want to go out there and whatever is thrown at me, I just want to play my A-game and do well for my country,” Vijay added.

The bouncy tracks of South Africa has been the talking point of the upcoming Test series but Vijay reckons that managing the bounce is easier for an opener compared to swing, which challenges batsmen with lateral movement of the ball. The pitch at Newlands has liberal covering of green, promising good bounce and carry throughout the game. “It is quite green. I don’t know how it is going to behave on Day One. For an opening batsman, swing is more difficult to face than bounce. Personally, I think I am able to manage bounce more. If the ball swings around, it is difficult for any batsman to keep his shape,” he said.

Vijay feels a certain X-factor is required to succeed in South Africa. “Once I played Test cricket here, I realised it is pretty challenging for an opening batsman here. The seam movement and bounce in these conditions is pretty exciting for the openers to go out there and perform. It is difficult, but at the same time, you get to learn a lot as well. If you have some X-factor in your game you can use that in a match situation the next time,” said the Tamil Nadu batsman. India have not played a practice game ahead of the Test series but Vijay is happy with the kind of preparation he has had. When asked if these training net sessions were adequate practice, he replied: “Personally, I am okay with anything. Everybody knows what they need to do. The individuals know what exactly are the areas they need to work on. They have been perfect practice sessions for us so far and we are looking forward to the game now. I don’t want to think too much about what will happen in a couple days’ time. I just want to prepare myself and be in a confident state of mind, which I am at the moment.” 

Spinners important too

While the focus has been on the pace bowlers, Vijay feels that the role of the spinners will also be of great importance. “It is actually a very, very important role because you have to support the fast bowlers as well. If you can bowl the spinners in the game, they can come in big time and get a couple of wickets here and there, so it will be a great help for us. We have quality spinners in our ranks and they can put up a good show,” he added. — PTI 

Flashback: India’s series of woes in South Africa

Virat Kohli leads India to their toughest touring country, South Africa, where India have never won a Test series. Of the six series hosted by South Africa, India have lost five and drawn only one, in 2010-11. 

1992-93: 4-Test series

On their first tour of South Africa, India drew 3 Tests but lost one to lose the series 0-1:

1st Test Durban, Nov 13-17 
S Africa: 254 and 176/3
India: 277 
Result: Draw

2nd Test Johannesburg, Nov 26-30 
S Africa: 292 & 252
India: 227 & 141/4 
Result: Draw

3rd Test Port Elizabeth, Dec 26-29
India: 212 & 215 
S Africa: 275 & 155/1 
Result: SA won by 9 wickets

4th Test Cape Town, Jan 2-6 
S Africa: 360/9d & 130/6d
India: 276 & 29/1
Result: Draw

1996-97: 3-Test series

India’s second tour to South Africa was worse, with two defeats and one draw:

1st Test Durban, Dec 26-28 
S Africa: 235 & 259
India: 100 & 66 
Result: SA won by 328 runs

2nd Test Cape Town, Jan 2-6 
S Africa: 529/7d & 256/6d
India: 359 & 144 
Result: SA won by 282 runs

3rd Test Johannesburg, Jan 16-20
India: 410 & 266/8d 
S Africa: 321 & 228/8
Result: Draw

2001-02: 2-Test series

This time India lost the series 0-1, while one Test was drawn. The third Test was stripped of its official status by ICC when India refused to play under the supervision of match referee Mike Denness, who had held six Indian players, including captain Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, of ‘altering the condition of the ball’:

1st Test Bloemfontein, Nov 3-6
India: 379 & 237 
S Africa: 563 & 54/1
Result: SA won by 9 wickets

2nd Test  Port Elizabeth, Nov 16-20
S Africa: 362 & 233/5d
India: 201 & 206/3
Result: Draw

2006-07: 3-Test series

India won a Test in South Africa for the first time, winning in Johannesburg to go 1-0 up, but lost the next two Tests to go down 1-2: 

1st Test Johannesburg, Dec 15-18
India: 249 & 236 
S Africa: 84 & 278
Result: India won by 123 runs

2nd Test  Durban, Dec 26-30
S Africa: 328 & 265/8d
India: 240 & 179
Result: SA won by 174 runs

3rd Test Cape Town, Jan 2-6
India: 414 & 169
S Africa: 373 & 211/5
Result: SA won by 5 wickets

2010-11: 3-Test series

Sachin Tendulkar was in tremendous form, scoring 2 centuries, as India won 1 Test, lost 1 and drew 1 to hold the hosts to a series draw for the first time:

1st Test Centurion, Dec 16-20
India: 136 & 459 
S Africa: 620/4d
Result: SA won by an innings and 25 runs

2nd Test Durban, Dec 26-29
India: 205 & 228
S Africa: 131 & 215
Result: India won by 87 runs

3rd Test Cape Town, Jan 2-6
S Africa: 362 & 341
India: 364 & 166/3
Result: Draw

2013-14: 2-Test series

India drew the first Test but lost the second to go down 0-1 in the seres:

1st Test Johannesburg, Dec 18-22
India: 280 & 421
S Africa: 244 & 450/7
Result: Draw

2nd Test Durban, Dec 26-30
India: 334 & 223
S Africa: 500 & 59/0
Result: SA won by 10 wickets


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