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India v/s Sri Lanka: Eden Gardens wicket is good preparation for SA tour, says Ashish Nehra

Just-retired pacer Ashish Nehra on Friday rated Indian bowling attack as one of the best and said the ongoing first Test against Sri Lanka on a ‘green’ Eden wicket is an ideal preparation for the hosts ahead of their gruelling tour of South Africa.

India will embark on a two-month long tour of South Africa where they will play three Tests, six ODIs and three T20s starting January 5 next year in Cape Town. Nehra feels the Indian batsmen might be struggling in overcast conditions on a green top in Kolkata, but it provides them with the perfect opportunity to prepare for the gruelling overseas tour.

“The Eden wicket is good preparation for India’s tour of South Africa. In South Africa the ball will have carry and lateral movement. This (Eden) wicket is giving them a good test of roughly what lies ahead,” said Nehra, who played his last T20I against New Zealand at home in New Delhi earlier this month.

“It does not swing much here. To be honest I don’t remember when we played on such a wicket. Because of rain there is more moisture underneath and it is helping seam and swing bowlers. It’s a good wicket. As I said, it is a good preparation for South Africa,” the 38-year-old added.

The former left-arm pacer hailed India’s bench strength in fast bowling department, which according to him is a must for a team in today’s busy international schedule.

“It is one of the best attacks we had. Ishant and (Jasprit) Bumrah are not there (in Tests) and but still we have a good pool of five, six pacers. Looking at the amount of cricket we have been playing we need five, six bowlers in Test cricket as well in other formats,” Nehra told reporters here.

A fit-again Dale Steyn is expected to return to South Africa’s squad after a one-year hiatus but Nehra said India has talismanic captain Virat Kohli to counter such threats.

“I don’t think India will be under pressure in South Africa. I hear a lot of talk that they have (Dale) Steyn and (Kagiso) Rabada, we have (Virat) Kohli and he is always ready to perform in adverse conditions,” Nehra, who made his commentary debut in the ongoing India-Sri Lanka Test, said.

“I expect (Mohammad) Shami to come good in South Africa. They have Dale Steyn and overall are a good bowling unit but we have Shami and he is very good too,” he said.

Batting first, India find themselves in the back foot against Sri Lanka in the rain-affected ongoing first Test but Nehra sounded optimistic. “If India would have won the toss, we would have bowled them out for 50-60 runs in my cricketing logic,” he said. “I doubt the ball will swing much. There is nothing to fear for India as Sri Lanka will have to bat also. I think the par would be 200-220 on this track.”

Looking dapper in formals, Nehra was seen talking to the Indian players along with bowling consultant Bharat Arun but he later said the conversation has nothing to do with cricket. “They (Indian players) were laughing when they saw me in suit on camera. So I went there and we were having a laugh about my new role. It’s a different experience and job with long hours. I’m getting used to it,” Nehra concluded.

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