Debasis Sen, Cape Town: Former South African great Jacques Kallis reckon the hosts will start as favourites in the series against India. Regarded as one of the best all rounder, Kallis feel the conditions here will definitely give South Africa an edge over the visitors. The Kolkata Knight Riders coach, who is not in town gave an e-mail interview to xtratime.in. Here are the excerpts:
XT: The forthcoming series has been billed as the battle between two top teams. What is your take?
Kallis: Well, two good teams, yes, but I think with South Africa being at home, India will find it difficult to win.
XT: With a fit-again Steyn and AB joining the squad, do you reckon South Africa will start as favourites?
Kallis: Yes, of course! Both are champion cricketers and their involvements will certainly boster the squad against a top side like India.
XT: The Indians are going into the series brimming in confidence, having had a great domestic season, winning 9 consecutive series. But series here will be altogether a different ball game. Do you agree and why?
Kallis: India don’t have a good record away from slow low pitches. I believe the South Africans will certainly have the edge on this occasion as well.
XT: Do you reckon this Indian team is the most balanced side to tour the rainbow nation?
Kallis: It is a well balanced side but South Africa will go in as favourites according to me. The team has a good depth and the players are in good form as well.
XT: During your time you played against the likes of Dravid, Laxman, Sachin, Kumble & Ganguly. How would you rate this current Indian team compared to the ones you played against?
Kallis: Kohli’s men looks to be a very well balanced team. The team has the perfect match of youth and experience. Yes, it’s a good side.
XT: Indians have been coming here since 1991-92 but are yet to win a series. Do you see them creating history this time?
Kallis: I think South Africa will be too strong a team at home. We have ideal players who will suit the conditions here.
XT: How do you see the bowling attacks of both teams?
Kallis: I think the South African fast bowling is gonna be tough to face in these conditions. India have quality bowlers, but South Africa is way better in this department.
XT: South Africa always produced some great all-rounders over the years. Why aren’t they producing any more top all-rounders like you?
Kallis: Well, all-rounders don’t come around everyday. The amount of cricket is being played these days, also plays a key role.
XT: Hardik Pandya has done well as an all-rounder for India in recent times. Do you see him getting success in these conditions?
Kallis: It will be a good test to see how his skills have come along as an all-rounder. These are testing conditions and if he does well, it will do his confidence a world of good.
XT: Virat has been in phenomenal form in the last 2 years. Do you see him scoring runs heavily in the series?
Kallis: He is a very good player and someone South Africans will want to get out early and cheaply. He is gonna play a vital role here. A lot depends on him.
XT: What according to you sets him apart from the other batsman in modern cricket?
Kallis: No matter how many runs you have scored in the past, the hunger needs to be there, always. Virat has a great hunger for runs.
XT: There is three way race between for top batsmen – Smith, Root & Virat. Who according to you is the best and why?
Kallis: Smith has been the stand out player recently. He will be my choice among the three you have named.
XT: South Africa recently hosted Day/Night test match. Do you see it as the way forward in order to make the game more popular?
Kallis: No. Test cricket should not be messed with too many experiments. Let it be how it has been over the years.
XT: Lastly, there are talks of Knight Riders leaving their inspirational captain Gambhir ahead of the next IPL season. It will be a new look side next season. Have you sat down with Venky and the management?
Kallis: No, not yet. He has been an outstanding performer and a great leader. Lets see how we plan.