Allan Donald (above) believes that Virat Kohli can step into the shoes left behind by Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images
Allan Donald (above) believes that Virat Kohli can step into the shoes left behind by Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images

 

The pace battery of South Africa is as formidable as it can get and for any team touring the Rainbow Nation can be a daunting task. India’s young brigade faces a massive test of their abilities when they tour South Africa in December 2013. Former Proteas pacer Allan Donald, however, does not think the Indian team can get intimidated. He tells Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya that killer instincts have made MS Dhoni and co tough and set them apart.

 

Excerpts:

 

Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya (WB): How is the present Indian team different from what you have seen in your playing days?

 

Allan Donald (AD): The best thing I like about India now is that they have hardened up. They are no more that team that used to come to South Africa and were left intimidated by our pitches — the bounce and the pace.

 

WB: What has made the difference?

 

AD: The difference is in their approach. They have a killer instinct going and a lot of young blood has changed perceptions.

 

WB: How do you look at the current Indian bowling line-up?

 

AD: I can’t say much about that but I think it depends on how well they can adapt to conditions. You can’t really predict who will gain advantage when and where but there needs to be variety. Every bowler has a distinct style and it has to be seen how they mix their deliveries. All our bowlers have different styles. Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are different from each other, Dale Steyn is another extreme who adds to the variety.

 

WB: How do you rate Bhuvneshwar Kumar?

 

AD: He can reverse the ball both ways and they can be handy. If he generates some bounce, he will do good in South Africa.

 

WB: Is there any particular Indian bowler you will ask your boys to watch out for?

 

AD: I am really impressed with Mohammed Shami. He looks like a tough guy. He executes the swing pretty good. And with a Kookaburra ball in hand on our pitches, he will run in hard.

 

WB: What about Zaheer Khan, who has made a comeback in the team?

 

AD: I thought you are asking about bowlers other than him. He is of course right up there with lots of experience.

 

WB: How do you think India will fare without Sachin Tendulkar in South Africa?

 

AD: The Indian team is pretty good at the moment. Look how well Virat Kohli is playing. I feel Kohli seems to step into the shoes Sachin Tendulkar left behind. I know it is impossible to replace a legend like him but Kohli has been amazing. His recent records speak about his talent.

 

WB: What is the buzz in South Africa post Tendulkar’s retirement?

 

AD: It will feel a little strange not having Sachin around. The people here are so used to seeing him. But such is the cycle and one needs to move on. Someday, we will have to learn to play without Jacques Kallis in the Test or One-Day International (ODI) team. I feel our time is coming soon when we will face a similar situation.

 

WB: What was it like bowling to Tendulkar on your debut ODI?

 

AD: It was in 1991, I remember. I had heard a lot about this talented young kid before that match in Kolkata. Though I got him out, his technique was phenomenal. The competition began since then. At times, I got the better of him and sometimes he got the better of me. I enjoyed the challenge, though. Players like him are very intimidating to bowl to. As the years passed by, he started improvising and became so good that he could change his technique according to situations. Even Gary Kirsten told me that point when he came back from India. That was his greatest quality.

 

WB: How does it feel having Jacques Kallis back in the squad?

 

AD: He is a huge factor in the team. His presence makes a difference in the dressing room. Having him for the series against India is an asset. Jacques has been one of the reasons that took us to the top in the last couple of years.

 

WB: What goes wrong with South Africa when it comes to winning matches in ODIs?

 

AD: We are working on our World Cup combination for 2015 and trying to find the right partnership. I admit we still need to hit the right chord but you can say we are rebuilding and I am sure we will find our way.

 

(Before joining DNA sports, Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya worked with The Hindu Business Line as a freelancer, and in front and behind the camera for Broadcast Telecast Worldwide (Kolkata). Apart from penning and editing stories, he is also a photographer and a musician. The above article has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)