Want to achieve what nobody has achieved in South Africa, says Rohit Sharma

India have a chance to make history when the first match of the two-Test series starts at Centurion on Tuesday

By PTI

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India's Rohit Sharma during a practice session in Centurion. — PTI
India's Rohit Sharma during a practice session in Centurion. — PTI

Published: Mon 25 Dec 2023, 5:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Dec 2023, 6:00 PM

India captain Rohit Sharma said he wants his team to "achieve" what others Indian sides in the past have failed to do in South Africa.

Since their first Test series in South Africa in 1992, India have never achieved success there.

Now they have a chance to make history when the first match of the two-Test series starts at Centurion on Tuesday.

"Want to achieve what nobody has achieved in this part of the world," Rohit said during the pre-match press conference on Monday.

Rohit also did not want to speak about his cricketing future, just saying that he wants to enjoy the game.

"I want to play whatever cricket is there in front of me," he said without elaborating his plans.

KL Rahul is expected to keep wickets in the first Test but the skipper said it will be up to the wicketkeeper-batter to decide how long he wants to don the gloves in the five-day format.

"I am not sure how long KL Rahul would want to keep wickets but he is keen as of now," said Rohit.

Meanwhile, South Africa captain Temba Bavuma is confident of maintaining the perfect record at home against India

"There is a lot of pride to be able to keep that record intact," said Bavuma.

"There will be extra drive and motivation (for India), so we will need to be at our best."

Virat Kohli led a strong Indian team in 2021/22, with high expectations after successful tours of Australia and England.

India won the first Test at Centurion but South Africa, inspired by then-captain Dean Elgar, succeeded in two hard-fought fourth innings chases in the remaining matches to clinch the series.

Kohli's frustration boiled over when a television review at a crucial moment in the decisive match went in favour of Elgar.

He resigned as Test captain the day after the match.

Both Kohli and Elgar remain as key batsmen for their teams, although not as captains.

Elgar, 36, who will retire from international cricket after the second Test in Cape Town, was axed as captain after a shake-up of the Test side earlier this year which included the appointment of Shukri Conrad as coach.

Conrad confirmed Elgar's decision to retire was based on a conversation between the pair but praised the opening batsman's "resilience, dog fight, pride in performance and that ability to never back down."

They are qualities which will be much needed against India with South Africa lacking experience and quality in their top order batting.

India, too, have question marks over their batting, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane no longer in their plans.

Both showed on previous tours an ability to withstand South Africa's fast bowlers on the country's traditionally lively pitches.

South Africa will again be relying on pace to unsettle the Indian batsmen.

"India have a quality batting line-up but we've got quality bowlers," said Conrad.

Young guns Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee played in four-day domestic matches last week but the more experienced Kagiso Rabada (sore heel) and Lungi Ngidi (ankle sprain) both missed the opportunity to get some red-ball cricket.

Conrad, though, expected both to be fit for the Test.

"They'll be fresh, they'll be firing," he said.

India will be without fast bowler Mohammed Shami because of injury but Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj will still spearhead a potent attack.

"Shami will be a big miss for what he has done for us over the years. Someone will fill up (the) hole but it won't be easy," Rohit said.

The matches will be the first for South Africa in the 2023-25 World Test Championship cycle.

It's India's second series in the championship after they won one match and drew one against the West Indies in July.

Squads:

South Africa:

Temba Bavuma (capt), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Keegan Petersen, David Bedingham, Tristan Stubbs, Kyle Verreynne (wkt), Marco Jansen, Wiaan Mulder, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Nandre Burger.

India:

Rohit Sharma (capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wkt), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Prasidh Krishna, KS Bharat (wkt), Abhimanyu Easwaran.

Umpires: Paul Reiffel (AUS), Langton Rusere (ZIM).

TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)

Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG).

Fixtures:

December 26-30, first Test, Centurion

January 3-7, second Test, Cape Town


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