It was perfectly understandable that when asked for his opinion on Ravi Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah, South African captain Dean Elgar, refused to put them on a pedestal.
Johannesburg – A sign of India’s depth in the last few years is that stopping a few individuals isn’t enough to beat them in a Test match or series any more.
In years past it was a case of stopping Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly or Mahendra Singh Dhoni and thereby stopping India. But India has shown that the team doesn’t need a superstar to shine in order to win.
Virat Kohli missed three of the four Tests in Australia last season and their bowling was hampered by injuries but India still achieved an historic series win Down Under.
Even this year, with Kohli not at his best, others have picked up the slack with the bat, as India has beaten England at home and then took a 2-1 lead into the final Test of the series in England, before that match was called off because of Covid.
So it was perfectly understandable that on Tuesday, when asked for his opinion on Ravi Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah, South African captain Dean Elgar, refused to put them on a pedestal.
“Ashwin’s one of the best off-spinners India’s ever produced, and it’s always nice to compete and compare yourself against those types of guys,” Elgar remarked.
🗣"Our batters have a big opportunity"
🗞Test captain Dean Elgar looks ahead to the #FreedomTestSeries opener against India
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) December 22, 2021
On Bumrah, he said: “He’s a world class bowler. If there is one bowler who could exploit South African conditions it could be him.”
But, Elgar and presumably the rest of the Proteas team, know that if they are looking at individuals, then India as a whole will overwhelm them. “We can’t focus on one guy, India as a whole, is a pretty good side. They have been a pretty good side for a few years and have toured very well of late.”
That is a critical aspect to highlight. The last time India toured South Africa in 2018, they came as the No.1 Test team in the world, but it was a hollow ranking, given that it was achieved based on dominance at home.
This time they arrive in South Africa with that 2-1 win Australia, and that lead from the series with England, as proof that they are no longer reliant on winning at home – where incidentally, they remain dominant.
“They are a good all-round side, they tick all the boxes, in terms of covering the bases on the bowling front,” said Elgar.
ALSO READ: History beckons for motivated India
Their fast bowlers out-performed South Africa’s in a home series in 2019 in conditions that were anything but ‘spin friendly.’ The squad for this series reflects the depth that India has created among its quicks with young Mohammed Siraj, a star who has shone brightly on the world stage in 2021.
“India’s bowling line-up has improved immensely, especially playing away from home. We are mindful that we will be up against it with their attack, which is perfectly okay for us.”
Elgar did, however, issue a warning for the visitors. “Hopefully we can use our own conditions as an advantage for us. It’s going to be tough, but it will also be tough for the Indian batters, to face our bowlers as well.
“I’d rather be sitting here knowing that, than be in the Indian dressing room knowing that they have to face our bowlers.”