India failed to impress in the T20I and ODI series, with South Africa showing they are much the better all-round team at the moment. With the hors d'oeuvres now over, it is onto the meaty main course of the Test series, the contest that everyone has been waiting to savour in this Freedom Series.

Four Test matches in all means there will be time for momentum and results to sway one way and then the other; time for teams to bounce back from a disappointing showing; time for India to show they remain the boss at home.

South Africa have travelled extremely well in the recent past, and are as formidable an opponent as India could have asked for. Which is why India, apart from being at the top of their game, require some help with the conditions.

Much was made of that reported "tiff" between Ravi Shastri and the Wankhede Stadium curator Sudhir Naik, and while the manner in which the reservations were made might not have been the greatest, there is little doubt that that pitch played right into South Africa's hands.

If it were anything like the one in Chennai, India would have won the ODI series and with it carry momentum into the important Test matches.

There have been, worrying from India's perspective, talk about preparing a "sporting pitch" (whatever that means) for the first Test in Mohali, with the pace bowlers coming into it initially, before the spinners come to the fore towards the final couple of days.

While that sounds well and good on paper, what India really need, and should ask for unashamedly, is a pitch that will make the likes of R Ashwin and Amit Mishra difficult to negotiate, and prompt Virat Kohli, the Test captain, to go with an extra spin bowler in Ravindra Jadeja.

Mohali is not known for such wickets, with pace and bounce a key component of the nature of the pitch at the PCA Stadium, but the best chance for India – remember, they will not have their best fast bowler in Ishant Sharma for the first match -- to get off to a roaring start in this Freedom Test Series is for the pitch to be slowish, and then start to turn eventually, giving Ashwin, if he is fit in time, and co. the opportunity to take full advantage.

If the wicket turns out to carry pace and bounce, though, it could hurt India, considering it will be playing right into the hands of South Africa, who have Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in their armoury, not to mention Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

Negating their threat and forcing the likes of Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir to spearhead South Africa's attack will be India's best option towards starting this Test series on a winning note, because if Steyn, Morkel and co. are allowed to run wild, this could turn out to be another hiding for India -- and that is without even mentioning the ridiculous batting lineup, led by Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers.

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