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SA v IND: It's a great opportunity to do well in these conditions, says Dravid
Centurion, Dec 25 - India head coach Rahul Dravid has urged his team to grab the great opportunity of performing well in South Africa. He added that a large chunk of a players career is defined by the performances coming against good oppositions in their backyard. India begin the quest for a maiden Test series win in South Africa with the first match starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion from Sunday.
"It's a great challenge. But I look at it as a great opportunity for anyone, whether you are in-form or out of form, it's a great opportunity to do well in these conditions. It's always something that we look forward to as a batsman. To be honest, playing in conditions away from home and having that opportunity to do well and test yourself against some really good opposition in their home conditions," said Dravid in the pre-match virtual press conference.
"A lot of your career is defined by those kinds of performances. I think it is a good opportunity for everyone to step up and put in those kinds of performances that will help the team win. From an individual perspective, it is something that they and the people will remember them for," added Dravid.
Dravid, who made 624 runs in 22 innings at a low average of 29.71 as a player in South Africa, is aware of the challenges in adjusting to conditions in the Rainbow nation. "It has always been a challenge because of the alien nature of the conditions. It does take a little bit of time to get used to the wickets. Especially when we start here in Centurion where even on the first couple of days in the nets you realise that it is slightly and considerably different to what you are used to."
At the same time, he has expressed confidence in previous playing experience of the Indian team in South Africa to help in adapting quickly to the conditions. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, and Wriddhiman Saha are on their fourth tour of the country. Captain Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, and Mohammed Shami are on their third tour while vice-captain KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah are on their second tour of South Africa.
"But I think there has been good quality and experience in this team as well. What we can take confidence from now is that a lot of our players have now been travelling quite extensively over the last few years. The team has been quite settled. In terms of batting and bowling, we have got some young players but we have also got guys with experience for whom this is not necessarily their first tour. They have been here before, so they are well aware of those conditions. Hopefully, they will be able to adapt quickly. We have done our bit in training, done our best and it is now about being able to best adapt to the conditions and execute when the game starts."
Talking about the preparation, Dravid feels that India are well-prepared despite having no warm-up match in the lead-up to the series opener. "In the past, when India has done well in the series, you generally had a good lead-in time in terms of preparation leading into the series, particularly leading into the first Test match. Honestly, that's the nature of the way things are at the moment in the kind of schedules we are working with. Also, with the kind of COVID situations we have and quarantines and bubbles, it's not easy to get exactly what you want."
"But I think the team has responded very well. We have had some really good quality practice over the last week. We had some really good centre-wicket sessions, probably the next best thing after a tour game. But we worked hard and trained over the week. In terms of the conditions, we couldn't have asked for anything more. You put in six to seven good days of practice, net sessions, and quality work."
"The bowlers have run in hard and are able to balance out the fitness work they are required to do as well. I think we are ready, prepared, and really happy with the way the guys have responded, the high intensity at our practice sessions, and how relaxed and calm the boys have been around the group. It's been great," concluded the 48-year-old.
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