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India vs South Africa: Playing in our backyard gives us upper hand against visitors, says Dean Elgar

Centurion: South Africa are “wary” of India’s overseas success but home conditions provide the hosts the edge going into the three-Test series beginning here on Sunday, said Proteas skipper Dean Elgar.

India had claimed a 2-1 win on Australian soil earlier this year to qualify for the World Test Championships final, which they lost to New Zealand.

File image of South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar. AP

File image of South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar. AP

Virat Kohli’s men also grabbed a 2-1 result in England before the fifth Test of the season was postponed to 2022 due to COVID-19.

“I think it’s pretty even-stevens. Us playing at home, obviously, gives us a little bit of an upper hand,” Elgar said ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Centurion.

“They are ranked No. 1 in the world; we can’t not look at that. That’s something they have been for quite some time, in my opinion – just my being a cricket watcher and a cricket fan.

“You can’t not give them the credit for what they have done over the last while. So, I am not going to sit here and say they are not the best side in the world because there’s a ranking system for a reason. But the mere fact that we’re playing in our backyard still gives us the upper hand going into the series.”

A major portion of India’s overseas success could be attributed to their fast bowling unit and Elgar said the visiting pacers will exploit the South African conditions which is known to offer pace and bounce.

“Their strength at the moment lies in their bowling. We are extremely aware of that as well. They’ve had a lot of success as a bowling unit. They’ve got a lot of older spearhead bowlers that lead the attack and have got a good back-up set of bowlers as well,” Elgar said.

“And being in South Africa, I’m pretty sure their bowling attack will exploit the conditions reasonably well. Just knowing that we have our seamers and we’ve got a little bit of pace and bounce and the wickets may be do a little bit more in South Africa than it does anywhere else around the world.”

India have never won a Test series on South African soil and Kohli’s men will go all out to be the first team to achieve the feat.

“It (India having success in Australia and England) is something we’re obviously wary of. They’ve improved a lot with regards to their travelling record,” Elgar said.

“I know Virat Kohli has emphasised on that kind of point – that they wanted to improve their record on the road. (We are) Extremely mindful of that; they have set themselves that standard. And I’m sure they’re going to try and fulfil it within this series.”

The 34-year-old Elgar said his team will do everything possible to stop a marauding India when the first Test begins here on Sunday.

“And as much as I have the power of being the leader of this team, I’m going to try and prevent them from fulfilling that role or that dream of theirs,” said the left-handed batter.

“That makes an exciting and challenging series for both teams. We know they’re going to come out firing; we’re extremely mindful of that as well.

“I’m pretty sure they know we’re also going to come out firing. Either way it’s going to be an extremely exciting Test series.”

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