New Delhi, Dec 8

F

ormer India left-arm fast-bowler Irfan Pathan believes the visitors’ mantra for the Test series against South Africa happening later this month should be acing the new ball challenge in both batting and bowling innings.

India will play two Tests against South Africa, in Centurion from December 26-30 and in Cape Town from January 3-7, 2024. It is India's second series of the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle, after winning the two-Test series in West Indies in July 1-0.

“Look, they have to search for that mantra, and I think that the mantra is in the new ball. When you bat and bowl well with the new ball, that is the biggest mantra, that you conquered it, then things will become easier for you. Because in South Africa, the toughest thing to do is bat and face the new ball,” said Pathan to Star Sports.

The last time India played a Test series in South Africa was in December 2021-January 2022. India won the first Test in Centurion before South Africa bounced back to win matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town to eventually claim the series 2-1.

“I found that last time when we played that and won a Test series when we won against them, the way we bowled in the second and third spell, we were tired as a bowling unit, and our length was a bit short, there was no shine and when we bowled up the pitch to them, I remember the pitch map very well, the balls pitched up were not shining at all, it was just speed,” added Pathan.

For India, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami (subject to fitness), Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Mukesh Kumar form the fast-bowling department. With the bat, captain Rohit Sharma will be leading the batting charge alongside Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan.

“So, I think the mantra we need to follow is that for the new ball, but even when we have the old ball, our focus and performance should be at the same level. This is where fitness also comes in, if we want to win these two test matches, I agree that these should have actually been three or four test matches.”

“But it can be of advantage to the Indian side because it two test matches, they can go all in and make their bowling reach a level that in the four innings, we have to take all 40 wickets of the opposition,” concluded Pathan.

Mantra for India will be new ball in Test series against South Africa: Irfan Pathan

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