Speaking to CricketNext ahead of the start of the series in Cape Town, Saha said that all the talk about Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel or Dale Steyn sending shivers down the spine of the Indian batting line-up made didn't bother the tourists as Indians too have bowlers who know how to bowl bouncers and use seaming tracks to pick 20 wickets and win Test matches on foreign soil.
“Bouncers? Movement? Are these as big a factor as you make them to be? Nobody is questioning the South African bowling line-up and we as a team have utmost respect for them. But do you forget that we also have pacers in the team? Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav know how to rattle batsmen with pace and bounce. Then you have Bhuvneshwar Kumar who can get the ball to seam at good pace. And I think Ishant Sharma has played enough cricket and knows what exactly is expected of him.
“The point is not pace and bounce. The point is if we can pick 20 wickets and win the Test and I think we have the players to do that. When we are done with the pace battery upfront, we have a quality seamer in Hardik Pandya and two supremely experienced spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. This team has the arsenal to win Test matches,” he said.
The confidence in his tone is clearly a result of spending quality time with the likes of Kohli and Shastri. And Saha makes no bones about the fact that his growth as a player has had a lot to do with the kind of support he has got from the captain and the coach, be it with the gloves in hand or the bat.
“Today, I can say that I know where I stand as a player and my role in this team is very clear. How often do you come across captains and coaches who are as vocal as these two? They have ensured that all of us know what is expected of us and there is no sense of doubt. Kohli often comes and tells me that I should not worry about whether I can score a hundred or a fifty. He says that every time I go out in the middle, I should enjoy myself.
“Shastri too doesn’t mince words and be it me or any other player, he will always give you the truth. He often tells me that I should be confident of myself and half the job is done then and there. Self-doubt is your worst enemy and the duo has ensured that this team is filled with confident people who enjoy each other’s success,” the 33-year-old said.
Going into the tour, Shastri had said that the next 18 months would be crucial for the team and would in a way lay down the blueprint of Team India’s future. Saha feels the same but is quick to add that India’s success on home soil was also a result of hardwork and discipline and should not be completely overlooked.
“Shastri bhai was absolutely right because we are playing the top teams and that too on foreign soil. If this team can beat the likes of South Africa, England and Australia, you can very well understand that we will not only gain immensely in confidence, but also be true world beaters. But then, something that irritates me is this obsession with pulling down India after every series win on home soil by saying that we win on tracks that were tailor-made for the Indian spinners.
“Don’t all teams nowadays prepare wickets that help their own team? Would you get a spinning track ever in South Africa, England, Australia or New Zealand? They are not criticised when they make wickets that help their bowlers. Then why this scrutiny when we win at home? Then again, these things do not bother us as a team because we are here to win and on any given surface. You dish it out and we have the answers,” he signed off.
Bhuvneshwar KumarHardik Pandyamohammad shamiRavi ShastriSouth Africa vs IndiaSouth Africa vs India 2018Umesh Yadavvirat kohliWriddhiman Saha
First Published: January 3, 2018, 11:28 AM IST