Johannesburg, Dec 4: South African captain AB de Villiers Wednesday reminded India of its poor track record in South Africa as the three-match series starts Thursday with the first ODI at the Wanderers here.
De Villiers is very much aware of India's poor record in South Africa. The Indians have won only five of the 25 matches they have played against the home team in their own backyard.
"We need to remember we're playing against a sub-continent team coming here who've had a very bad record here and there's no need for us to stand back," he said.
"They're certainly not the best bowling attack in the world, there's no doubt about it. They've got a decent bowling attack that batters sometimes feel they can get on top of and then they seem to get wickets.
"We won't be underestimating them, but we do feel we can get on top of them if we do the hard yards and have wickets in hand at the end of the innings," he said.
Notwithstanding the 1-2 ODI series loss against Pakistan, De Villiers said that the Proteas are not underdogs against India.
"Some of the really knowledgeable guys will say we're underdogs, but there is no way we are going to stand back and allow that to happen," De Villiers said here Wednesday.
"There's no chance against anyone in South Africa that we can afford to be called the underdogs. I know if we play anywhere near our full potential, there's no one in the world that can stop us here in our conditions," he added.
While the Indians are chasing and setting a target of 300 with ease in each and every ODI over the last couple of months, De Villiers feel that it would be different when the World No.1 ODI side play in South African conditions.
De Villiers said fast bowler Vernon Philander, who injured his shoulder during Tuesday's training, has a 50-50 chance of playing.
"He did have a bit of an accident yesterday, he fell on his shoulder, so there's a bit of a 50/50 call tomorrow when it comes to Vern. Vern is a very skilful bowler, especially when the conditions allow him to show off his skills. He's not a huge swing bowler, but he gets it to talk off the deck, so he needs a bit of assistance, especially in the shorter version," he said.
Tough challenge for South Africa: Proteas' coach
South African coach Russell Domingo said the series against India will be a tough assignment for the Proteas.
South Africa lost the recent ODI series at home against Pakistan, but Domingo feels that the three ODIs and the two Tests against India will help him to gauge where is the team heading to.
“It’s a big gauge for us. Look, we’ve won five of our last eight One-dayers, so we’re heading in the right direction, there is no doubt about it. But we know that India are going to be a tough assignment for us," he said.
"They are coming off outstanding performances, albeit in India and under Indian conditions, but we are really looking forward to it. We need to see where we are going,” Domingo was quoted as saying in the South African media Wednesday.
The next two ODIs will be held at Durban (Dec 8) and Centurion (Dec 8). The only practice match, a two-day affair, is slated for Dec 14 and first Test starts Dec 18 in Johannesburg and the second from the Boxing Day Dec 26 in Durban.
Domingo said India are a quality side and South Africa, who are No.1 in Tests, would like to test themselves against the No.1 ODI side.
"India are a quality side and a big attraction, and we would have liked to test ourselves against them, but that's the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it," he said.
The South Africans were vulnerable against spinners while chasing in the series against Pakistan, but Domingo said it was about only "one or two spin bowlers".
“I don’t think it’s spin bowlers, I think it’s one or two spin bowlers. Saeed Ajmal is the number-one ranked (ODI) bowler right now. He’s a world-class spinner, he has been for a period of time, and particularly when you play him under conditions like we had in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as well. He’s always going to be tough," said Domingo.
Domingo was all praise for Ajmal, who is in the running for the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year Award.
“A lot of batters have struggled against him and a lot will still struggle against him. I don’t think we’ve got a weakness against spin bowling, just that Saeed Ajmal is a world-class bowler and I’m glad he’s back in Pakistan," he said.
Domingo, however, feels that the Indian spinners won't be as effective as Ajmal, especially in the first ODI at the Wanderers.
Asked if the Wanderers pitch will give his side an advantage, Domingo said: “I don’t think coaches have too much say nowadays in terms of how the wickets get prepared. We’re looking forward to getting back on bouncier and quicker pitches. We’re just looking for a good cricket wicket.”
Domingo also said that the players were not bothered about the shortening of the tour but it "would have been nice to play a longer series".
“They are not too stressed about it. We’ve just come off a long series, home and away, against Pakistan. It’s not something we’ve really discussed too much. The players are fully focused on what they’ve been dealt with and we’ve got to focus on the three one-dayers and two Test matches. It’s not too much of an issue for us," he said.