SA coach’s remarks show they are under pressure: Raman

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) Former India opening batsman Woorkeri Venkat Raman says that it is South Africa who are under pressure, not the Indians, as their coach Corrie va Zyl has claimed ahead of the Test series getting under way Thursday.

‘Van Zyl is just playing the usual mind games most Test teams indulge in, and one need not read too much into it,’ Raman, member of the first Indian team to visit South Africa in 1992 after its apartheid regime was dismantled, told IANS Tuesday.

Raman was reacting to what he called the pressure tactics of Van Zyl, who said India’s past record in South Africa, where they have won only one of their 12 Tests, will haunt them.

‘Van Zyl knows that his team is under tremendous pressure playing the World No. 1 side. They fear losing at home, that’s why they want to psyche themselves up by playing these mind games,’ said Raman, who is here with the Bengal Ranji team as coach.

The 45-year-old former Tamil Nadu captain feels that it would not be a one-sided battle as it used to be in the past. India in recent years have done well overseas and it will not be easy for any side to roll over them.

‘This Indian team is very different and in the last few years they have won against tougher opposition. I don’t think they are affected by such word play. And most of the players in this team were a part of the squad that toured South Africa in 2006-07. In the last series, though we lost, the team proved that they can beat South Africa in their own backyard,’ he said.

‘A tour match would have helped them, but most of the players were a part of the team that toured South Africa four years ago and they are well versed with the conditions there. Most of them played in the second edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) there and that’s a big plus,’ he said.

Raman also said Mahendra Singh Dhoni shouldn’t be paranoid about the No.1 tag.

‘What I like about Dhoni is that he is not bothered too much about rankings. These things keep fluctuating. He should only be concerned about playing good cricket,’ he said.

Raman believes that Virender Sehwag will be a vital cog in the Indian batting line-up.

‘We have a great opening pair in (Virender) Sehwag and Gautam (Gambhir). Sehwag will be a crucial factor for India. With a solid middle-order to follow, Sehwag has the liberty to go after the bowling using his unique aggressive style of batting,’ he said.