Gambhir predicts tough series against South Africa


Chennai : Indian opener Gautam Gambhir predicted a tough series against visiting South Africa next month and even more so in the absence of Rahul Dravid who is out of action with a fractured jaw he suffered during the recently concluded series in Bangladesh.

Support TwoCircles

Gambhir, signed up by MRF last year, was here Sunday to flag-off the Formula 1600 race in the MRF Challenge series and during his interaction with the Media. He hoped that India, having begun the year well, would carry the momentum against South Africa.

“We have to play well as a team. It would be crucial for us to get a good start, either batting or bowling first. If we are batting first we need to put up a good total to back up the bowlers. If we are bowling first, we need to take crucial early wickets,” he said.

On Dravid’s absence, Gambhir said: “Dravid has been the wall of Indian middle order batting and his absence against a quality team such as South Africa is a big blow. However, injuries are part and parcel of sports, and it gives other players an opportunity to prove their mettle against a tough opposition.”

Gambhir opined that the South Africans would be carrying confidence from their last tour and boast of a strong pace attack in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but India too have a competent battery of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma to match them.

“They did well when they were here the last time, but didn’t win the series. They will surely carry some confidence from that tour. But we have also started off the year well by winning the series against Bangladesh. We have a lot of cricket ahead and it is good to start the year on such a positive note.

“They have a strong bowling pair in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. We need to start off well upfront to keep them at bay. Though we don’t have Sreesanth in the side, Zaks (Zaheer Khan) has been bowling extremely well recently. His performance in Bangladesh spoke volumes for the form that he is in. Ishant has also been bowling well in Test and we do have a good balance in bowling too,” he said.

Gambhir sidestepped on the Indian Premier League (IPL) issue and the absence of Pakistani players. “I have no clue about it. But despite the absence of Pakistan players, we have a good pack of foreign cricketers. There are some very good foreign players though we don’t have Mohammed Asif, but I think there is a good balance.”