'If India get their noses ahead…', Graeme Smith warns England about their chances in Test series

February 20, 2024
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has cautioned England regarding their prospects in the ongoing Test

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has cautioned England regarding their prospects in the ongoing Test series against India, saying that if the hosts “get their noses ahead then they are tough to catch.”

After winning the first match, England lost the next two matches on the trot and fell 2-1 behind in the five-game series.

While praising Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for sticking to their preferred style of play in India, forcing their opponent to contemplate their moves, Smith, now Cricket South Africa director of cricket, cautioned that It would be challenging to catch up with India in going forward.

“There’s always been a lot of talent, but they seem to have taken away the fear, provided a lot of security for people and look at the game in a really positive way. England are certainly sticking true to the way that they want to play in India by applying pressure on the opposition and making them think,” Smith was quoted by Wisden.

The former Proteas batter further advised England to stay mentally fresh and within their game plan as toiling against India, with lengthy days in the field coupled with the intense heat, can exhaust them as the series progresses.

“It’s a very long tour and toiling against India like you have to, with long days in the field combined with the heat, can wear you down towards the back end of a series. Staying mentally fresh, positive, and within your gameplan is important. England have done that well so far and need to hang tough for as long as possible, because if India get their noses ahead then they’ll be very difficult to chase down,” he said.

No one has beaten India in a series in India since 2012. Out of 44 Tests at home since the beginning of 2013, India have won a whopping 36 and lost just two (vs Australia in 2017 and vs England in 2021).

Smith pointed to the ability to compete away from home as being what separates the best from the rest. “Being able to win away from home is the differentiator between a good team and a great team. There’s no greater challenge than travelling into someone else’s backyard for a few months at a time with their crowds, their media and their conditions, and proving that you have the team and the capabilities to compete there and win over an extended period.”

“That’s something that we saw with the great West Indies side of the 1970s and 80s, and the great Australia side of the 1990s and 2000s – they really did dominate around the world. The South Africa side that I captained went nine years without losing a Test series away from home, but that consistency on the road hasn’t been present in the world game of late. India, Australia and now England have all had teams with plenty of ability since then, but if you want to really step up then you need to do it away from home,” concluded Smith.

With India leading 2-1 in the five-match series, England will look to level it up by winning the fourth Test, commences on Friday in Ranchi.



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