In the last two tours of South Africa, India have managed to put together many good performances, but a series win has remained elusive. So much so that South Africa is the only Test-playing nation where India haven’t been able to win a Test series.
Last time, India won the Centurion Test to go 1-0 up but things moved south after that and led by three half-centuries from Keegan Petersen, South Africa clawed back to win the series 2-1. However, South African skipper Temba Bavuma doesn’t want to put his guard down this time around, knowing India could nullify their home advantage with their bowling attack.
"We understand conditions a lot better so you'd expect us to adapt a lot better but their bowling is quite strong," Bavuma said in the press conference ahead of the Centurion Test that starts on December 26 (Tuesday).
"The fact that they've been able to achieve such success is because of their bowling attack and that kind of nullifies the advantage we have. It's more between the batters and how the batters take on that challenge."
Bavuma, however, added that there is a lot of prestige attached to South Africa’s record of not losing a Test series against India at home. And it will take a lot for them to maintain that record.
"There's a lot of pride attached to that - that we've been able to keep that record intact as a South African team... all of us as players also feel that. But we understand playing against India comes with certain challenges and it's those types of challenges we would like to focus on.
“Playing against India comes with a lot more eyes and a lot more scrutiny in terms of everything we do. So it's accepting that. And the other, more obvious one, is the skill factor on the field.
“For me as a batter, the bowlers are going to put you under pressure and their batting line-up as well, they've got renowned Test players and guys who performed in all conditions. They are a determined team as well, who want to be able to say they've won a Test series here in South Africa so with that extra bit of drive and motivation, we'll really need to be at our best,” Bavuma added.
Bavuma didn’t have a great World Cup, which made many question his place in the side. Even further down, he hasn’t played any first-class cricket since March. But Bavuma believes that he is as fresh as ever.
"Mentally I am as fresh as ever. I didn't get any red-ball cricket. Things happened with a bereavement at home. But I've enjoyed the time being at home, with the wife and the little one but I missed the cricket and was watching the guys in T20Is and ODIs. We don't usually get breaks this long, especially in-season so I'll take the break."