India have never managed a cricket series win in South Africa, but coach Ravi Shastri is confident that Virat Kohli and his team are capable of turning things around when they take on the Proteas in the opening Test at Newlands in Cape Town on January 5. "If South Africa tour happens to be tough for our batsmen, our job will be to make it tougher for their batsmen," Shastri told reporters ahead of team's departure from Mumbai.
India are slated to play three Tests, 6 ODIs and 3 T20Is on the tour.
India registered a record ninth straight series win after drawing the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on December 6. They are now level with Australia and a series win in South Africa will see them create a new world record of 10 consecutive Test series victories.
"The fact is that players have been together for 4-5 years. That experience will stand them in good stead. Conditions will be tough. The next one-and-a-half years will define the Indian cricket," Shastri said.
Shastri, who replaced Anil Kumble as Team India coach earlier this year, heaped praise on death-overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah, saying the Gujarat pacer is one of the best in the world.
"I think Bumrah is very exciting. He has shown how good he is in ODIs and T20Is. He has shown he's one of the best in the world and has been acknowledged by opponents. I think his confidence level is high and it is a good time to get him in," Shastri said.
Bumrah has been called-up in the Test team for the first time.
India have played 17 Tests against South Africa in South Africa, winning 2 and losing on eight occasions. Seven Tests ended in draws.
India's Test record against Proteas is pretty decent at home. The Men In Blue have hosted South Africa in 16 Tests, winning eight and losing five times. Three Tests were drawn.
The first Test will be played on January 5 in Cape Town. The second Test scheduled to be played in Centurion from January 13. The last match of the series will be played at Johannesburg from January 24.
Thereafter, India and South Africa will be engaged in a six-match One-day International and three-game T20 International series in February.