Dravid “certain” India will be competitive in SA

Rahul Dravid has absolutely “no doubt” that India can overturn their wretched record in South Africa when their fifth tour of the country begins with the first Test in Centurion on December 16.

India have lost all four Test series in the Republic since the inaugural four-Test ‘Friendship Tour’ in the 1992-93 season which South Africa won 1-0. They have fared no better in ODI series during that time.

“I do we believe we can play overseas,” Dravid told reporters in Cape Town on Wednesday following a training session at coach Gary Kirsten’s academy in Constantia.

“We have shown this over the past couple of years where we have won in England, drawn in Australia and won a Test here the last time we were in South Africa. Our overseas record is as good as anyone’s in recent times,” Dravid said.

The 37-year-old veteran suggested that India’s poor record had more to do with the quality of opposition on home soil than India’s inability to adapt to different conditions.

“South Africa are a tough side who play disciplined cricket and we need to match them not only in a few sessions or one Test but throughout the series by maintaining our intensity.”

“When I arrived in South Africa for the first time I had only previously gone to England,” he said. “Younger players like Suresh Raina have been to South Africa before to play IPL and Champions League and young players also go on many under-19 and ‘A’ team tours which has given them lots more exposure to conditions that we had, so I don’t think adapting to conditions will be that difficult.”

Dravid was equally adamant that coach Gary Kirsten’s influence would make a difference this time around.

“Gazza has been terrific since joining us. He really gets on well with the guys. He’s got a great work ethic and has really created a good atmosphere in the dressing room, but at the end of the day, it is up to us who have to absorb the advice but execute the game plans. He’s not going to bat for us,” he said.

Dravid admitted that playing alongside Proteas’ pace spearhead for two months at the Bangalore Royal Challengers may have assisted him for the coming series but also said that “it works both ways. He’s also seen a lot of me!”

Dravid refused to concede that the home side’s attack, led by Steyn and Morne Morkel, would give them the edge in the fast bowling department.

“All three of our pace attack have been bowling well. Zaheer (Khan), Ishant (Sharma) and Sree (Sreesanth) have all been doing well as we saw in our last series. As much as an impact the South African bowlers are likely to have, I believe our attack can claim 20 wickets. The key will to keep them all fit throughout the series,” he said.


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