Bengaluru: South African batting mainstay AB de Villiers feels way too much has been made out of their loss in the first cricket Test against India on a spinning wicket and says there is nothing wrong in the home team changing the conditions to suit its strength.
Just like India Test captain Virat Kohli, De Villiers too said that there were no demons in the Mohali pitch.
"Absolutely. Way too much has been made of it (loss in the first Test). It has been blown out of proportion. If you look at the batting scorecard of both the teams, no one has scored a hundred. Both teams struggled on the pitch. Both teams struggled against spin and looked foolish at times," he told reporters ahead of the second Test starting here on Saturday.
"We came out on the losing side because we did not play a couple of sessions to our full potential and that cost us the game. We could have batted better in the first innings; but unfortunately we didn't. And in India's second innings, we let it slip by 50 to 100 runs. We could have done better with the ball in hand. That's where we lost the Test match. It's got nothing to do with the wicket. Both teams struggled against spin -- you can read the scorecard and see that," De Villiers said.
Stating that pitches in all the remaining three Test matches will be made to favour the hosts, Der Villiers said the Proteas have the firepower to counter any conditions.
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with home teams changing the conditions to favour them and to favour their strengths. Theere's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don't mind that. I feel we've got all the firepower to counter that. We showed signs of that in the first Test match but not for long enough. Hopefully in this Test match we'll find that rhythm and have more endurance than the opposition," he said.
"All four of the Test matches will be played in similar conditions, no matter where we play. If we play India at the Wanderers in South Africa and it's seen as an Indian ground (home match), it will have turn on it. We're expecting turning wickets, wherever we go. We'll be prepared for that. We've worked really hard on our game and covered all bases.
"I don't think we played poorly in that first Test match. For a couple of hours we didn't play good cricket. It had nothing to do with our skills and our potential to take India on in their own conditions," De Villiers said.
"I'm prepared for any kind of Bangalore wicket. We know it's going to turn. It's not going to be a Wanderers wicket. South African teams are known for bouncing back and their resilience. I'm expecting the boys to be very upbeat for the second Test match," he added.
Talking about his own batting, De Villiers said whenever he comes out to bat he likes to be a threat for any opposition team.
"I like to have energy at the crease. I like to be a threat for the opposition and for them to believe that if I bat for a period of time I'm going to win the game for the team. That's why I play the game. I'd like to have an impact on us winning cricket games. That's what it comes down to. I'm a guy that wants to perform for the team and wants to do well," he said.
The second Test against India will be De Villiers' 100th match and the dashing right-hander said he is under no pressure to perform but he is eager to help South Africa draw level in the series.
"I don't feel any pressure because this is my 100th Test. Whenever I walked down on to the middle for batting, I have never been under pressure. I feel pressure because we are one down, and I want my team to get back into the series," De Villiers said.
"I feel very humble and privileged to walk on to the ground for my 100th Test. I want to play my role and get the team into a position from where we can win the Test and get back into the series," he added.
Having won their maiden Twenty20 and ODI series here, De Villiers said it will be a big achievement for South Africa if they manage to pocket their first-ever Test series victory on Indian soil.
"It's got nothing to do with completing any cycle. It's just about winning away from home. We've never done it in India. It'll be a great achievement. That's enough drive for this team.
"I've read a part in a book where some of the All Blacks say that it's not about the individual but it's about leaving the jersey in a better place for those who're coming after you," he said.
"That's what it's ultimately all about, to motivate the next generation. To dominate cricket, that's ultimately the goal, to dominate world cricket. If we do this, we are slowly but surely taking another step in the right direction, towards doing something special."
De Villiers also backed their new opening duo of Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl and said the two batsmen looked comfortable against the Indian spinners during the first Test in Mohali, which they lost by 108 runs.
De Villiers said both the batsmen are well equipped to play on tough Indian conditions.
"I think they are. It's difficult to look at the scorecard because not too many players got runs. But two or three of our batters looked comfortable on that surface and Elgar and van Zyl come to mind. The rest of us struggled a bit at times but they are definitely two of our batters that looked comfortable playing against the spinners on that wicket, which is very promising for us," he said.
"Yes, it's important to have opening stands -- they know their roles and responsibility in the team. According to my gut feeling, they are definitely two of the in-form batsmen in our line up at the moment. I'm expecting them to do well here."
He refused to divulge any details on pace spearhead Dale Steyn's injury status. The speedster, who did not take the field during India's second innings, suffered a groin injury during the first Test.
"He's (Steyn) going for a fitness test as we speak. So I'm not 100 per cent sure. We are hoping for his return but we'll see how he goes today and tomorrow," De Villiers said.