AB de Villiers may be on the brink of his Test comeback after two years away from the longest format of the game this week here at St George’sPark against Zimbabwe, but he can’t help but think of the greater challenge ahead against the World’s No 1 team India.
De Villiers has not played a Test since January 2016 against England at the Wanderers due to injury and a self-imposed sabbatical. But the former Test captain will be back in whites on Boxing Day and is eager to make an immediate impact in the inaugural four-day floodlit pink ball Test.
“I received the white clothing on yesterday again, with the new pullover, and felt it like my first game again. It is very exciting and really looking forward to walking out there again and getting some results under the belt. Hopefully we play some good cricket against Zim and then take it for there,” De Villiers told reporters ahead of South Africa’s training session under lights.
“I pride myself that I can adapt to certain conditions and certain formats. I feel more ready than ever to take it on. I faced pink balls last night on a spicy wicket. It was really tough. Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game I believe and it is the greatest challenge to come out on top when the ball is moving around a bit in Test cricket. I am looking forward to what Zim has to offer. I know they will be a big challenge for us. They have some match-winners in their team. We will respect that and find a way to get on top still.”
As much as De Villiers was keen to talk up South Africa’s northern neighbours’ chances here in Port Elizabeth, he cannot lose sight of what awaits just down the line. India arrive in the country over the course of the next few days with the first Test scheduled for January 5 at Newlands.
It will certainly be a huge step up in intensity with the newly-married Virat Kohli leading a team that are hell-bent on creating history. India have never won a Test series in South Africa, winning just two out of 17 Tests. But De Villiers, who is close friend of Kohli due to their time spent together at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, believes those statistics are consigned to history and that the Proteas will need to bring their “A game”.
“It (India series) is huge. They have played a lot better in our conditions over the last few series that they have played here compared to the 1990s. I think they are a team that is young and determined,” De Villiers said.
"It will be a great challenge for us. We know all about Virat Kohli and how determined he is as a captain. He will definitely try to come here and win and to make history. We are well aware of that and we will prepare accordingly.”