By C.Rajshekhar Rao
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MOHALI, India _ South Africa captain Hashim Amla expects the first test against India to favour spin bowlers and said he is not surprised that the hosts are likely to go for pitches aiding turn during the four-test series.
“It looks a bit different pitch from the Mohali wicket I know, it might turn a bit,” Amla said Wednesday. “As a player, I always expect the conditions to suit the home team wherever I go in the world. It doesn’t really matter to us.”
Amla is aiming to lead the team to its first test series victory in 15 years in India and said pace bowlers Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were all capable of playing a hand in it.
“There are some countries where playing in their home yards is more challenging. Playing India at home is considered one of the tougher challenges for any team, so (the prospect) for us to come out on top is something we are all relishing,” Amla said.
Amla said he was hoping to overcome a lean run of scores in the limited overs leg of the tour and that “a good one is around the corner.”
South Africa, which is in line to win in all three formats after winning a three-game Twenty20 series 2-0 and a five-game ODI series 3-2, will in all probability miss Jean-Paul Duminy while Morkel’s fitness was being monitored.
Meanwhile, India captain Virat Kohli was boosted by the return of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after he missed most of the limited overs leg because of a side strain. Ashwin will also have leg-spinner Amit Mishra and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for support.
“For the last 2-3 years, Ashwin has been our go-to man in test cricket, Kohli said. ”He’s someone who has done really well in conditions that suit spinners. You see him taking 5-6 wickets consistently in those conditions. He is certainly someone who has taken his game to the next level.“
Kohli was not amused by the fact that India’s spin tracks are discussed time and again.
“Pitches are not the focus when we tour abroad,” Kohli said. “We have to tackle the conditions when we play away from home, we are judged on that. But if you win in difficult conditions, you will get more satisfaction.
“Teams which are at the top are the ones playing well away from home. Every team wants to be at the top and so needs to do well abroad.”
Kohli said if pitches needed to be standardized, it was up to the International Cricket Council to do it.
“If pitches need to be similar then they should be so all around the world,” Kohli said. “In case you want to make a rule, ICC should send someone to assess the pitches.”
The remaining tests will be played in Bangalore, Nagpur and New Delhi.