The misguided few will say Dean Elgar is presiding over the corpse of South African cricket, but the Proteas captain is adamant that his team can take on India, who he readily admits are the best side in the world, blow-for-blow in the series that starts in Centurion on Sunday.
India’s recent victory over New Zealand, winners of the inaugural World Test Championship earlier in the year, returned them to the No 1 ranking, with the Proteas currently languishing in sixth place. But India have never won a series in South Africa and Elgar believes this home ground advantage can give them an edge.
“India have been ranked No 1 for quite some time and, in my opinion, they are the top side. The ranking system is there for a reason,” Elgar said on Friday.
“But I think the series will be pretty even and playing at home gives us a bit of an upper hand.
“India have improved a lot in terms of their travelling record and Virat Kohli has put a lot of emphasis on winning on the road. Their dream is to win a series here and as captain I’ll be trying to prevent that.”
Selecting the right attack is going to be a complex issue for the Proteas because, in their expanded squad, they have eight different pace bowling options.
While South Africa have historically been biased towards using the fast men, however, Elgar all but confirmed that spinner Keshav Maharaj will play at SuperSport Park.
“It’s my home ground and conditions have changed a bit. There is sometimes some turn,” he said.
“We want to set the game up for days four and five, when hopefully the pitch will deteriorate a bit.
“Keshav will then come into play and he’s so adaptable that he doesn’t just contain, but he can also be a wicket-taker, a strike bowler at the right time. He’s been pretty amazing for us and we can’t neglect him.
“There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing the pace attack, but we will try to tie in with the style of play we’re trying to implement. We have the luxury of an extended squad so we are able to tick all the boxes.”