Kepler Wessels says India will need to change their approach to the South African fast bowling attack and be prepared to take the blows if they want a better batting display.
After a very disappointing batting performance in the Newlands Test, in which they were blown away for 209 and 135, the former Proteas captain insists India will need to front up aggressively to the hosts’ fast bowlers.
They can expect even quicker wickets at Centurion Park and at the Wanderers, and Proteas coach Ottis Gibson is more than likely to again opt for a four-seamer attack.
In an interview with Wisden India, Wessels says the Indians cannot hope to ‘just play a survival game’.
‘Your mindset is going to be that you have to be physically very brave. So you’re not going to mind if you get hit because that’s part of the job. Secondly, you’ve got to look to score against them. You can’t just play a survival game. You’ve got to defend well, yes but you also got to attack whenever you possibly can.’
Wessels, who opened the batting for both South Africa and Australia in a 40-Test career, believes that India needed players to graft hard and spend time at the crease, like Cheteshwar Pujara, while linking with the aggressive nature of someone like Hardik Pandya or Virat Kohli.
‘Pujara is technically correct and he is patient. You need a guy like that in your line-up. If you’ve got some flamboyant guys at the other end, then you need one or two of those guys. But I think going forward, they’ll probably look to run more aggressively between the wickets, look to maximise the bad delivery a little bit more and look to maybe not just survive but score as well. Not quite to the extent of Hardik Pandya [who scored 93 at Newlands] but with that thinking process.’
Analysing the bowling attack, Wessels said: ‘Against [Morne] Morkel, you’ll be looking to score off the cut shot on the backfoot. [Dale] Steyn doesn’t give you much to hit, so you’re going to be looking to leave well, make him bowl straight at you and then score through the legside. Probably the same with [Vernon] Philander. [Kagiso] Rabada will bowl a few short balls as well, so you’ll be looking for the cut shot again. That’s how you have to assess the options.’
The batting approach from India’s batsman towards a lethal fast bowling attack of the Proteas will need to be vastly different in order for India to be competitive. Wessels’ advice of a more aggressive and positive approach against the Proteas attack could work in India’s favour.
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