India’s Test vice-captain and middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane expressed confidence in the team ahead of the first Test match against South Africa starting from October 2, saying that their ‘preparation has been really good.’ Rahane said, “As a batting unit, you have to adapt to all the conditions and you got to prepare yourself really well before the series starts. Our preparation has been really good. We had a really good practice session today and one more day tomorrow going into the match,” in a pre-match press conference on Monday.
Rahane said he does not want to put too much pressure on himself and is aiming to contribute as much as possible for the team. “I am looking to stay in the moment, staying in the present and that’s what I did in the West Indies as well… Staying in the moment, believe in my ability and look to contribute to the team so that I do not put too much pressure on myself,” he said. Rahane also said that it is important to win every match because of the Test Championship. “The important thing is to win the series and win the match. Because of this Test Championship, you cannot take any team for granted and point systems are involved. I think it is important to respect your opponents,” he said.
India will enter the field with a lot of confidence as they won both the Test matches against West Indies. Meanwhile, South Africa pacer Vernon Philander wants the team's senior players to take responsibility and throw the "first punch" at "big dogs" India in the upcoming three-match Test series starting October 2. The opening Test against India will mark the start of South Africa's ICC World Test Championship campaign and Philander said it is going to be a tough battle first up. It will be the first Test series for South Africa since the retirements of experienced players such as Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn. South Africa will look to kick-start their ICC World Test Championship campaign after drawing the T20 series 1-1 with India.
"It's a tough start playing India in India but I don't think the South Africans would have wanted it any other way take the big dogs in their home ground," Philander said. "All of us are looking forward to this challenge and there are a lot of player-to-player challenges as well. The spotlight will be on a lot of big players to make a statement. Our job is to come here and give the first punch as India is obviously expected to do well," said Philander after the conclusion of the final day of the practice game. He said, "We are known as a team who starts slow so this time around we have to start well. There is a lot of pressure on players (but then) it's international cricket and you want to keep it that way."
(Inputs from PTI)