Ravi Shastri
Ravi Shastri

Mumbai: India chief coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday urged the squad to embrace the challenges awaiting them in the tour to South Africa, as he insisted that they have prepared well. India will play South Africa in three Tests, six One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). The first Test begins on January 5.

Test matches in South Africa have always been tough for India who have never won a Test series there. "We know how tough this tour of South Africa is. That's the beauty about their profession -- wanting challenges and embracing it and that's what we are looking for," Shastri said.

"We toured Australia in 2014 and we did a pretty good job. We have done well in England. In 2015, we toured Sri Lanka and it had great tracks on which the ball seamed and swung. So preparation has been good." Shastri said that the players are playing together for the last few years and that will help them flourish in South Africa.

"These boys have been on the road together for the last 4-5 years -- the same team. The nucleus has been the same so that should help a long way," the former all-rounder added. "One and half years will define Indian cricket. Tour of South Africa, Australia and England. This will be a better team after this 18 months."

Many experts said that this is the toughest tour of India due to the playing conditions. In South Africa, the batsmen will face extra bounce and pace from the surface. The weather conditions there are also different as compared to the sub-continent.