Morne Morkel believes that the Test series against India will be ‘evenly contested’.
The stage has been set for a potentially intense competitive rivalry when the top two Test sides battle at the dawn of the new year, with the first of three Tests starting on 5 January at Newlands.
Having never won a Test series in South Africa, India will look to prevent the hosts from gaining ground on their No 1 spot on the Test rankings.
Fast bowler Morkel has anticipated a tough series as he looks to gain full fitness after picking up a side strain in October which kept him out of action for six weeks.
‘It is no doubt going to be a fantastic series against India,’ Morkel told IOL Sport.
‘They have been saying a few things in the media about wanting to prove they can play away from home, so it is definitely shaping up to be a good, evenly contested series.
The Proteas will be hoping to receive a major boost to their pace attack with the return of Morkel, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander who are all on the road to full fitness after lengthy spells on the sidelines. They will join the No 2 ranked Test bowler, Kagiso Rabada, in what is expected to be a lethal combination.
Despite this, Morkel expects a tough battle.
‘They have batters that score on hard, bouncy pitches and have a good seam attack that has pace and swing. It is all about who plays the conditions best on the day.’
Proteas coach Ottis Gibson will have a tough decision to make regarding his bowling unit, with four World Class seamers and an in-form spinner Keshav Maharaj to pick from.
Morkel has an incredible record against India, having taken 24 wickets at an average of 24.75, compared to his career average of 28.85.
India Test series itinerary:
5-9 January: 10:30 1st Test match, Newlands, Cape Town
13-17 January: 10:00 2nd Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion
24-28 January: 10:00 3rd Test match, Wanderers, Johannesburg
Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images