Mumbai: South Africa-born Sri Lanka head coach Nic Pothas has predicted a close contest when India face the Proteas in the upcoming Test tour beginning next month, provided the Virat Kohli-led batting line-up measures up to the home side's lethal new ball attack. The 44-year-old Pothas said that the Indian team under Kohli seemed to have covered all their bases.
"They (India) have got all their bases covered. If you provide them with a green wicket they have got bowling attack to knock over other batting line-ups. If it's a flat wicket, they have got those bases covered. If a wicket spins they have got their bases covered," said Pothas.
"If the Indian batting line-up can get runs against South Africa, then South Africa is going to find them (India) very tough," said Pothas at the post-match press conference after Sri Lanka lost the third and final T20 International by five wickets for a 0-3 series defeat. South Africa have the option of unleashing a deadly new ball attack on Kohli and his men following the recent comeback to fitness of their premier fast bowler Dale Steyn after a lengthy rehabilitation process from injury.
India, who had never won a Test series in South Africa, are to play three Tests with the opening game scheduled to start at Cape Town on January 5. Talking about the India's potential in the limited over format, Pothas said the Kohli-led side have plenty of depth to fall back upon while praising former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the best finisher in these shorter formats.
"In one-day cricket they (India) have got a lot of depth, even in the 3rd T20I, they made a few changes (and) it did not hurt them. I like the fact that MS has closed games for a long time now. He is the best in the world in doing that," said Pothas, who has played 200 first class games as a wicketkeeper-batsman besides turning out for three ODIs for South Africa.
He mentioned that India were trying out people like all-rounder Hardik Pandya to do the game-finishing job which Dhoni is so adept at. "But tonight, Hardik (Pandya) had a chance to do that.
They are providing opportunities for others to do it and are looking to the future to build players who can take over from the senior guys. They're a very exciting side and having watched them now over two series, they're a great side to learn from. It's going to be a great series in South Africa," said Pothas.
He also expected the Indian wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal to pose challenges to the South African batsmen, similar to what they did to the Lankans, while pointing out that the Proteas too have someone of the calibre of Imran Tahir to pay back in the same coin. "When someone bowls with a similar action (and) the ball can go both ways, it makes tough for anybody. But there has to be other qualities as well. You can't just pick a spinner who is okay because he is a wrist-spinner. I think these (Indians) are quality wrist-spinners. But you have to remember Imran Tahir is a pretty good bowler as well. So it's going to be a battle of wrist-spin in the ODIs," he said.