Mumbai: With India's next big assignment this year being the England tour, India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane believes India's marvellous bowling performance in South Africa will help the team to draw a lot of confidence ahead of their gruelling five-Test tour.
“Definitely, we all do believe that we have the team that can do well in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and England. It is important to start well. The preparations part will be really important as it will provide us with the momentum," Rahane said at the India Today Conclave.
India, for the first time, managed to take all the 60 wickets in the three Tests, posing problems to the South Africans. Rahane says if his team can replicate the performance in England, India will stand a good chance of turning things around in difficult English conditions. “Taking 60 wickets in South Africa was unbelievable. The way our fast bowlers and spinners bowled, we all believe that we can do well."
Rahane, dropped for the opening two Tests in South Africa, made a significant contribution to the team's success in Johannesburg. His knock of 48 in the second innings ensured India reached a match-winning total on the crumbling Johannesburg pitch, which eventually helped India clinch the game. Rahane said that he was satisfied with his effort. “When we go abroad, the teams come hard at us. There is a challenge for an individual to do well overseas but we had discussed that from now on, wherever we will go, we will think and play like it's our home turf and that's what we were doing in South Africa."
During India's last tour to South Africa, Rahane had noteworthy knocks to his name. This time, he might have got fewer opportunities, he says he walked in with the mindset to play a heroic knock. He displayed grit and showed guts to bat on the up and down wicket. “Yes Johannesburg wicket was slightly dangerous but for me, it was an opportunity to become a hero. I did not play the first two Test matches and I was motivated, I was disciplined and really working hard on my batting, when I got to know that I was playing this (Johannesburg) Test match, and that is what I did and I am happy to contribute to the success,” Rahane said.
Similarly, former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who was also present at the Conclave echoed similar comments, saying the team possesses a potent bowling attack to win matches on foreign tours. With India having a battery of pacers in Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, picking 20 wickets away has certainly become a possibility. “Absolutely they have the (bowling) attack to take 20 wickets. Indian cricket always has had the batsmen, who would put 400 runs on the board but the difference is when they put 400 runs on the board and you have bowlers to pick 20 wickets."
"You have got Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, (Jasprit) Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and sitting out, there is Ishant Sharma," Ganguly said.
Ganguly remembered his captaincy days and shared that how Anil Kumble would demand a decent score from batsmen so that he could attack. “Anil Kumble used to say: "You give me 450 runs on the board in the first innings and I will win you Test matches. This team has the batting, already with Rahane, (Virat) Kohli and the rest, and they have the bowling too," he added.
"The key is how we quickly we get on at the start of the tour because that is very important. You saw in South Africa, as time went by, they got better and they have got all the qualities to win overseas,” Ganguly said.