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India will be tough rivals, Gibson warns SA
January 04, 2018
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Cape Town: South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has warned his team that India may prove to be tough opponents during the upcoming three-match Test series.

“They are currently ranked number one and they’ve got a lot of world class players and world class players aren’t just world class in their own back yards,” Gibson told media persons here.

“They’re a very good team and I think they will travel a lot better now. We know for sure that it is going to be a tough series. I don’t think you’re going to see them fold as much as they may have done in the past,” he added.

The wicket for the first Test — which begins here on Jan.5 — shows a distinct green tinge. With fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel set to take the field for South Africa, Gibson hoped the hosts will be able to enjoy the upper hand.

“I’m not expecting it to change too much between now and Friday,” the Proteas coach said when asked about the wicket.

Gibson has had previous experience against the Indian team. He was England’s bowling coach in 2016 during their disastrous tour of India which saw them crash 0-4 in a five-match Test series.

However, the 48-year-old is confident that a full strength South African pace attack will be able to give a tough challenge to the Indian batting line-up.

“They were too good for us. They played really well and were led very well by the captain, who got a lot of runs. There were times in those conditions where we couldn’t get him out,” Gibson recalled.

“I think in these conditions it will be a lot different. We’ll have some plans for him as we will for every other player in the team,” he added.

Gibson also felt that the current Proteas pace attack was the best the country has had in a long time which gives a strong chance to win the upcoming three-match Test series.

“This attack has (Dale) Steyn, Morkel, Rabada, Philander, Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj, who is a world class spinner. Perhaps the best that the country has had for a long time. But certainly this attack, if all those guys are able to take the field then this will be up there with the best ones,” he said.

“It’s a world class bowling attack and we just have to try and come up with the right combination to go and win this Test match and then think about the next one.”

Although Steyn is back in the Proteas Test squad after a lengthy absence, Gibson is reluctant to field him in the opening Test.

“Dale Steyn is fit again. But I don’t know just yet whether we will see him this week. He has had a year’s lay-off. I don’t think if we were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him in that three-man attack, in case something happens and that leaves the team vulnerable if he can’t finish the game,” Gibson said.

“That’s not to say that he won’t finish the game, but you don’t want to take that risk in the first game of the summer. He will come into the discussion but it depends on the formation of the team that we put on the field,” he added.

The coach however, hinted that he may field the experienced fast bowler later on during the series.

“You’re looking at three different sets of conditions. Down here on the coast, the wicket tends to dry out quickly so you might play an extra bowler here. Further up into the Highveld, it might be different. We have to take each set of conditions as we find them now and then pick the best team for them,” Gibson said.


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