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first_imgAfter a couple of outstanding years at home, India are all set to begin a tough 18 months on overseas tours starting with the Test series in South Africa.For the next 56 days India will take on the Proteas in a series of three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is.The No. 1 Test team in the world will now have a big point to prove as experts have been saying all along that India will have to replicate their home success when they travel to places like South Africa, Australia and England.India have never won a series in South Africa but rest assured the current team under Virat Kohli is probably the strongest to travel abroad in recent years and has a big opportunity to come home with a series win under their belt.Coach Ravi Shastri told India Today that the next 18 months will define Indian cricket. Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane also agreed that the upcoming series will be a big challenge for them but they are well set and ready for whatever comes their way in South Africa.”Definitely it’s a very big series for all of us and I think playing in South Africa against them is always a challenge. We’ve been there last time (in 2013-14) and I think this time will be completely different. This team is doing really well, combination is really well, so, we all are sure that this time we will do well… But again, playing against them, a quality attack, quality batsmen is always a challenge but when you do well against a side like this your confidence actually goes high,” Rahane told India Today’s Boria Majumdar in an exclusive chat.advertisementWATCH FULL INTERVIEWRahane has been under a bit of pressure lately having scored just 17 runs in the three Tests against Sri Lanka. But the 29-year-old has been one of the best Indian batsmen on overseas tours and he is unfazed by all the criticism he has been receiving so far.”I accept challenges in a positive way and that actually motivates me to do well. If you see I got 96 last time in Durban and that was my first series, first tour abroad and I was really motivated, really inspired to do well there. Playing against dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Philander and this time Rabada…I mean it’ll be a great challenge. I always feel that if you do well in those conditions, your confidence actually goes high and before going there I prepared myself well; preparation was the key going to South Africa, Australia, England and New Zealand.”Well, this time if you see our attack, everything is set, everyone is doing really well but personally I feel I am sure I am confident that this time I will do much better what I did last time.”The last time India toured South Africa in 2013-14 they drew the first match and lost the second by 10 wickets with Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Rahane emerging as the top-three scorers in the two Tests.Which is why Rahane feels that having already faced the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander in their own den will help the batsmen this time around as well.”Going back a second time really helps….because you know the conditions, you know how the wicket behaves, what are the important shots you can play. As a middle order batsman you know that how much time you actually have to take in the middle and especially playing in Cape Town, Jo’burg…I mean we know the wickets over there. If you give yourself time and once you are set its a true wicket to bat on, you can play your shots and I actually love pace and bounce and I can enjoy my shots over there.”Skipper Kohli wasn’t too happy with the preparation time that his players got before the South Africa series but Rahane reckons 10 days is good enough time to get ready for the rigours of an overseas tour.”We get 7-10 days to prepare ourselves I feel it’s very good. Tentatively if we get more than 10 days to prepare yourself for the overseas series, it’s a very good time so that you can get used to the conditions, get used to the weather. And I think getting used to the wickets over there it’s a challenge because when we play in India the conditions are completely different and when we go abroad the weather, conditions, wicket conditions are completely different, so, if we practice, like if we get 5-6 open net sessions or 5-6 normal net sessions we are actually ready for the Test series,” Rahane concluded.advertisementlast_img