SA a formidable side, but India won’t take backward steps: Shastri

"South Africa are a stiff opposition. They play well in overseas conditions better than any other side in world cricket. They travelled better than any other team and records will show that. And so we what we are up against. The respect is there but we will not take any backward steps," Shastri thus outlined his team's approach for the upcoming challenge against the No.1 Test team in the world.

Graeme Smith, the captain who oversaw South Africa's rise and sustenance at the No. 1 spot in Tests, retired during his team's home series against Australia in 2014. Two solid counterparts of his, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher, will also not be around for the India tour.   -  AP

Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher retired sustaining an eye injury in South Africa's tour of England in 2012   -  The Hindu

India Team Director Ravi Shastri said that South Africa are still a formidable side despite the retirement of some big players recently, but despite this, his side will continue their aggressive brand of cricket in the upcoming series beginning on October 2. “It is like asking me about Indian team without (Sachin) Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble - players will come and go, but you got to respect the fact that South Africa are world number one side,” Shastri said at a press conference when asked about the visiting side which will be without the likes of the retired Jacques Kallis, and others.

“South Africa are a stiff opposition. They play well in overseas conditions better than any other side in world cricket. They travelled better than any other team and records will show that. And so we what we are up against. The respect is there but we will not take any backward steps,” he told reporters at the National Cricket Academy where Indian team is holding a camp. South Africa are coming to India for a more than two-month long tour which begins with a limited overs series.

India and South Africa begin the series with a Twenty20 International at Dharamsala on October 2. The former India all-rounder brushed aside any talk of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's possible rustiness to lead the side against South Africa in the limited-overs matches. India last played an ODI in June in Bangladesh and Dhoni, who has retired from Test, led the side.

“No problem at all. You are talking about a season campaigner, one of the legends, one of the all-time greats in world cricket and not only of Indian cricket, you know I am saying as a captain. He (Dhoni) takes over a job he has been doing and so it is nothing new,” Shastri said.

“Everything fits into place automatically. For the team there is no difference, they played under him in the World Cup. The last time they played an ODI, they played under MS in Bangladesh. What is the difference, they are playing under a champion. What else do you want?”