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India in South Africa, 1st Test: Virat Kohli's men need to keep their wits about them in bad times

How the Indian players motivate themselves when the chips are down will decide whether or not India claim their first Test series win in South Africa.

India in South Africa, 1st Test: Virat Kohli's men need to keep their wits about them in bad times
Courtesy: IANS

India have been exceptional in Test cricket in the last couple of years, especially at home but now one of the biggest challenges in South Africa awaits them when they start their three-Test series at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.

The fact that they have won nine successive Test series will count for very little as their record in South Africa to date has been nothing short of disheartening.

Since South Africa's return to international cricket in the early nineties, India have lost five of their six Test series there and one rubber ended in a draw. To be more precise, they have won just two out of 17 Tests to go with seven draws.

The reason for India's poor record in South Africa could be perfectly gauged in light of Indian batsmen's performance over the last two and a half decades there as visitors. The bouncy wickets have proved too much for Indian batting during this period, and that puts all the more pressure on the current crop, especially in view of their incredible performances largely at home in the last couple of years.

One look at South Africa's current fast-bowling unit and one knows straight away that Indian batsmen are once again in for a hard time.

Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel are names that should bother the touring batsmen, and it wouldn't be wrong to say that India's chances heavily depend on how their batsmen fare against the quality of the above-mentioned players.

Be that as it may, one good news has greeted the Indian camp ahead of the game, that of Shikhar Dhawan recovering from injury in time. No Indian team, no matter how strong, will feel good about their chances having in mind their past record but it's essential that the players turn a blind eye to India's dismal record in South Africa. 

India are the world's number one Test team and that ranking doesn't come easily. Clearly, they have the right players and talent to beat South Africa in their own den. It's all about confidence and attitude and there will definitely be times when things will be against them on the field. But that's where they will have to back themselves and keep their wits about them.

India can take a lot of confidence from that fact that their performances in South Africa have been largely on the up ever since their first tour and this time they can do even better, probably even win the series. The important thing is not to lose hope in bad times. Virat Kohli's men will do well to remember this piece of advice.