December 30, 2017 / 2:04 PM / in 10 months

Kohli tips India's balanced team to end drought in South Africa

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - India feel they have the right balance in their squad to break new ground and win a series in South Africa for the first time, to underline their top ranking in test cricket, captain Virat Kohli said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Sri Lanka v India - Third Test Match - Pallekele, Sri Lanka - August 14, 2017 - India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates after they won the match and test cricket series against Sri Lanka. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/Files

“Our best result here has been a drawn series in 2010-11 but I feel the kind of bowling attack we have now and the balance we have in the side, we definitely can win here. There are no two ways about it,” he told a news conference as India began their preparations for the first test at Newlands in Cape Town, which starts on Friday.

“We come here wanting to express ourselves, believing in our abilities and knowing we have the right balance to win test matches under any conditions we play under.

“This is an opportunity for us to play good cricket. We aren’t thinking about the history of past series in South Africa but concentrating on winning each session and executing our strategy well. I think international cricket is all about staying in the present and trying to do things better than your opposition at all times.

“If we didn’t have that mindset, there would be no point getting on to the flight to come here,” Kohli told reporters.

Though India, top of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) test rankings, have won their last nine test series in a row, stretching back to August 2015, their record in South Africa is poor.

Since 1992, they have won just two of the 17 tests played there, losing five of the six series, with the 1-1 draw in 2010-11 their best return.

“We come to South Africa knowing the wickets are going to be different from those back home. We are under no illusions but we are ready for it.

“Last time we were here there was a lot of talk about our batsmen being bounced out but we stood up rather nicely.

“The most important thing is not to get surprised by the pace and bounce. It is going to be much quicker and much more bouncy than back home and you will get balls that will surprise you every now and then, so the most important thing is to focus on the game ball by ball,” said Kohli, second behind Australia skipper Steve Smith in the individual test batting rankings.

“That’s something we did last time. You can’t afford to worry about the pace and bounce, you have to believe in your abilities and take it head-on. That’s key to playing in conditions that are different from your own,” he added.

India play three tests, six One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 matches on their two-month tour.

Editing by Clare Fallon

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