Former South Africa opener and coach Gary Kirsten is confident the No. 1 Test team in the world will prove their mettle in the remaining two Tests against India.
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India and South Africa are engaged in a gruelling series with the hosts fighting back following crushing reversals in the limited overs leg.
The South Africans won the T20 series 2-0 and grabbed the ODI clash 3-2 to reinforce their status as the best touring side in world cricket. However, the Indians struck back in the Test series, taking the opening match in Mohali by 108 runs.
In the second Test, they took control on the opening day but rain washed out the rest of the match. Hashim Amla’s side now have had time to recover and regroup and Kirsten expects a fierce reaction in Nagpur on Wednesday.
“They will be determined to do well in the third Test. This is a side that has not lost a Test series away from home in seven years so they know how to win away and how to fight. So in the next two Tests, I expect South Africa to be right on it,” Kirsten told Sport360 in Dubai where he delivered a coaching masterclass to young cricketers at the Cover Drive Sports Academy.
“These are two quality teams. The games are going to come down to good sessions. Whichever team has a good session could win the game. India have shown good skills but I still feel it’s going to be a closely fought series as there are still two Test matches to go.”
Kirsten said that even though South Africa have not hit top form yet in the Tests, overall it has been a fruitful tour which should give them a lot of confidence.
“South Africa have had an exceptional tour. Make no mistake. To go there, spend so much time and perform, they have done very well. I am not surprised. It’s a quality side, especially the one-day side.
“The Test team is going through a transitional phase. They have some good young players. They need to get though this period, need the players to get more established and get some more game time.”
Kirsten, however, admitted the absence of pace ace Dale Steyn has been felt, with the second-highest wicket-taker for the Proteas rendered unfit for the series.
“You take someone who has been one of the greatest fast bowlers and you don’t have him in your team, what happens? You have got to get youngsters in the team. So you are going to have a dip in performances. So it’s a natural thing that happens to any team,” explained Kirsten.
Regarding his stint in the UAE, Kirsten said was amazed by the talent on show, adding: “We have 10-11 year olds here who have the same amount of talent as 10-11 year olds in South Africa. There is no doubt that if players here are given in the right sructures they can get better.”
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