A Test series win in India will add another prized piece of memorabilia to the South African team’s brimming trophy cabinet of away Test scalps.
Captain Hashim Amla feels the pressure to maintain the nine-year unbeaten record ‘away from home’ will be overpowered by the desire and determination to achieve what no team in the world has done — beating India in all three formats of a series at home.
South Africa have already beaten India in T20 and ODI series on the current 72-day tour. And on Thursday starts the four-Test series in Mohali.
“As the No.1 team in the world we have had to deal with this expectation (of winning) for the last three years,” Amla said at his pre-match press conference at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Wednesday.
“We have managed to do quite well with the extra pressure. A lot of us haven’t managed to have series wins in India but we have played some good cricket here over the last couple of years. Yes, we would like to walk away from this series with a victory, and from the way the players have handled themselves over the last few years I don’t see why it can’t happen.”
“One of the things we would like to do is to win a series in India, I have never been part of a winning cause here,” Amla added. “It will be lovely for this team to experience that type of enjoyment, we know that there are few countries who are challenging in their home yard. Sri Lanka was one of them and it was my first series as captain, so India in India is considered one of the tougher challenges for any team so for us to come out on top would be great.”
Amla has adopted a simple philosophy to his young career as Test captain, and even though it’s only his fourth series in charge, he has shown tact and nous in the role he describes as a ‘chess game’ determined by making the right moves at the right time.
“When I go out on to the field as a captain or a batter I try to do what is most efficient to win a game,” the captain explained. “If it’s batting, I will try to score runs in the best possible way and as a captain you try to make decisions that will take the game forward. There will be times where you have to play the game in a way that will ensure results, and sometimes you have to play a slightly defensive game to make sure that results come a little bit later.”
JP Duminy has been ruled out of the match after failing to recover from a laceration to his right hand sustained in the One-Day International series, while a late call will be made in the morning on Morne Morkel who is recovering from a right quad strain.