Star South African batsman AB de Villiers says the Indian team and its captain Virat Kohli have transformed completely over the years and will try to create history in the upcoming Test series.
India have never won a Test series in South Africa, a 1-1 draw in the 2011 being their best result. The upcoming three-match series begins January 5.
De Villiers has been out of Test cricket on a injury-induced exile for almost two years, having last played in this format against England in January 2016.
He will return to Test cricket in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe beginning Tuesday before the series against India.
The 33-year-old South African said it would be a challenge for his side against a young Indian side led by a highly competitive Kohli.
“I’m very excited that they (India) are going to be touring in South Africa. I have not played against India for a while now, so it’s going to be a really good series,” de Villiers was quoted as saying by ‘Sunday Times’.
“It will be a great challenge. They (India) are a team that’s young and determined. They have played a lot better over the last few series we’ve played here compared to the 90s,” said de Villiers who has amassed 8074 runs from 106 Tests at an average of 50.46.
The Indian side will be led by his Indian Premier League teammate Kohli whom he described as one of the best captains in the world now.
“I’d say Virat is one of the best captains at the moment, the most improved—there’s a big change from when I first saw him captaining to now,” said de Villiers who has played under Kohli for IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“We know all about Virat Kohli, how determined he is as captain; he’ll definitely come here trying to win and to make history,” de Villiers said.
De Villiers’ last outing in Test cricket was a forgettable experience as he registered a pair of ducks? first dismissed by Stuart Broad and then by James Anderson. In fact? his last three innings before his break were ducks.
But he said his motivation for returning to red ball cricket is to help South Africa regain the number one position in the rankings this summer.
South Africa can move to the top of the ICC Test rankings if results go their way this summer in the home series against Zimbabwe and India and Australia.
“Obviously we’d like to be No.1 in the world? we are not far away. We know if we win a few series in the next two or three months against very tough opposition we can achieve that. That will be nice to be that No.1 team in the world again and to maintain it for a few years.”
De Villiers is not overly concerned about the fact he has not played much multi-day cricket heading into the four-day Test against Zimbabwe starting on Tuesday.
He was the captain when he last played Test cricket, against England in January 2016. Since then he’s battled injury, taken a break from the long form of the game and handed over the captaincy to former school teammate Faf du Plessis.
“I think that Faf has all the credentials to make a really successful captain. I believe he has the potential to become the best captain South Africa has seen so far,” he said.