Sanjay Bangar © IANS (File Photo)
Sanjay Bangar © IANS (File Photo)

Team India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar stated that neither opposition nor conditions would really matter for a high-on-confidence Team India  ahead of the first of the three-Tests series versus South Africa. India will be battling all odds to win their first-ever Test series on African soil, with their best performance (1-1) coming in 2010-11 tour.

“We are very, very confident about our preparation because we got four-five days here before the first Test. And out of those days we made sure we got plenty out of it. All the boys are in a positive state of mind. It is a Test match and it is no different from any other Test match that we play wherein the opposition skills are taken into account. We really focus on our own inward processes, how our mental approach is and how our mindset is in terms of batting rhythm where we stand. So the opposition doesn’t really matter nor do the conditions. What we are feeling as a batting group is what matters more and we work towards achieving that sort of level that we desire to,” stated Bangar.

With the Cape Town pitch not offering a lot of assistance to the seamers, India would be tempted to take a lead in the series. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see which of their pacers get the nod on Thursday. India have a pool of bowlers to choose from: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah. Speculations are rife that Virat Kohli-led India may play with four bowlers — three pacers and a spinner.

Shedding more light on the team composition, Bangar added, “Whenever the wicket suits, if it’s a bowling-friendly track then obviously we might go with four bowlers and if conditions are perceived to be batting-friendly we might opt for five bowlers. Well, more or less that has been the pattern for the last 24 months or so wherein the team management has made the choices about the team composition. As of now the conditions we found, we expect the ball to seam around a bit on day one. On days two and three, they are going to be very good batting conditions. We will take into consideration the extent of moisture tomorrow on the surface and we will take it from there.”

Bangar backed pacer Ishant Sharma for reprising the third pacer’s role, and praised the others as well. ”We have got Ishant who is having his third tour of South Africa and all the bowlers have been rotated really well keeping into account the work loads that they are going to encounter here. You see the consistency that they have displayed in the home season where they bowled on pretty flat conditions and made sure that they gave the support that was required for the spinners on home soil. They have built a great sense of discipline in their bowling and I am pretty sure that discipline will help us in maintaining the pressure on opposition batsmen.”

While Rohit Sharma was in magnificent form in India’s last series versus Sri Lanka, Ajinkya Rahane fell flat. Bangar remained unsure of who among the duo will get a chance for Cape Town opener.

“Again, it all depends on the team composition. All of them are batting really well. Rohit, on the back of his performances across formats, is in with a chance of playing. It boils down to the team balance and composition and we will take a call on the morning of the match who will get a nod,” stressed Bangar. In addition, he cleared out the playing chances of Shikhar Dhawan and Jadeja. “Shikhar had a minor ankle niggle. He has been cleared and declared fit, and is available for selection. Jadeja is still under observation and yet to recover (from viral illness). His condition is still being monitored,” concluded Bangar.