NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will approach 2018 as the year to shed their “poor travellers” tag, head coach Ravi Shastri said ahead of the team’s tour of South Africa.
India top the test rankings having sealed their record-equalling ninth consecutive series on Wednesday, six of which came at home and only one — against West Indies in the Caribbean — outside Asia.
Sterner tests await Virat Kohli’s men next year when they also travel to England and Australia, where conditions will not be as conducive to their spinners as it is at home, and the moving ball will probe their batting technique.
“This team is looking good and they have their priorities in place. They’re hungry to prove themselves home and away,” Shastri told the Times of India newspaper.
“It’s often been argued that India are poor travellers. We want to be the team that helped change this perception and this is the year to do it.”
“Frankly, we’re not too hooked on to this ‘home and away’ thing, where a lot of chatter goes on about conditions that aren’t too familiar,” the former test player added.
”For instance, once you’ve played a test match in Kolkata, how long does it take before you play another test there? Two years? Sometimes three? It’s the same as an overseas tour.
“So that mindset is quite passé. In this day and age, wherever you go, it’s home. You just got to walk in there and perform.”
Starting on Jan. 5, India play three tests in South Africa — as well as six one-day and three Twenty20 internationals — and, for a change, they will be relying more on pace than spin to succeed against the world second-ranked side.
India have named five frontline pacemen in their 17-man squad, handing a maiden call-up to Jasprit Bumrah, whose unorthodox action and ability to bowl yorkers have made him a limited-overs asset.
“…he has just worked his way to the top so well. He’s young, hard working, and has a unique action with which he can whip up quite some pace,” Shastri said of the 24-year-old.
“Bumrah adds a lot of value to this attack. We have to earn those 20 wickets if we have to make any impact in a test match and we need all the arsenal possible because it’s going to be quite a testing tour.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O’Brien