The much awaited India-South Africa series starts in a couple of weeks and the men in blue are gearing up for this all-important clash. India's main spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, who had a terrific series back in Sri Lanka recently, is all set for the South Africa series.
Ashwin is confident that Virat Kohli can lead Team India to yet another Test series win, this time against the number one team in the ICC ranking. Kohli recently ended India's 22-year-long win drought in Sri Lanka, and the crafty off-spinner, who is also celebrating his 29th birthday on Thursday, believes that the skipper can repeat the same against the Proteas.
"Virat, to my mind, will make a difference to our cricket. I say this with confidence," Ashwin was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
Ashwin also said that the series against South Africa will be a challenging one for this Indian team and he is also hopeful that they can end South Africa's unbeaten streak for nine years in overseas series. The momentum that they gained after beating Sri Lanka at the latter's backyard will be useful while they will take on the Proteas.
"The rankings apart, South Africa are one of the finest teams around. They travel really well and the fact that they haven't lost a Test series overseas for over nine years is an incredible piece of statistics. The likes of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith have retired, but South Africa still have plenty of heavy ammunition.
"We do have a good pattern and rhythm flowing. Yes, it's going to be a tough Test series and we'll have to compete hard, stay neck-and-neck and, then, look to beat South Africa to the finishing line," Ashwin said.
Ashwin is focusing on his rhythm now because he wants to get back to groove right from the start of the series. Proteas batting lineup features a number of good players of spin bowling and thus it will not be easy for Ashwin. The Chennai lad said that he loves to perform under pressure and he is looking forward to do the same against South Africa.
"I'll be looking to get back into groove. The T20Is and ODIs will follow soon afterwards between October 2 to 25 and my target is to regain the rhythm I had in Lanka before the four-Test series begins, on November 5.
"I relish pressure. It's part of the game and I'm comfortable with it. If cricket didn't have pressure, I'd actually look to do something else, with more pressure," Ashwin concluded.