India skipper Anil Kumble wants his team to maintain their intensity to clinch the home series against South Africa and set the tone for a busy season.
Spin twins: Anil Kumble, left, and Harbhajan Singh
prepare for South Africa [AFP]
The 37-year-old leg spinner, who wants second-ranked India to dethrone Australia by the end of what could be his final season, said the batsmen should provide the initiative in the first test, which begins in Chennai on Wednesday.
"Whenever we've played at home we have been able to post big scores. That will be the key," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"I'm confident we will put up a big score. Once you do that the pressure of playing on a (turning) pitch and also the faster bowlers, it will be difficult."
He was confident he can motivate the side, despite the series coming soon after a draining Australia tour.
India lost the tests 2-1 and a young side upset the hosts in the tri-series.
"We could see the intensity in the practice sessions that we have had," he said.
"Nowadays cricketers understand the need for intensity on the field throughout the series."
He was wary of South Africa, bidding for an Asian treble after wins in Pakistan and Bangladesh, although a grassless pitch and sapping humidity could play into the hands of the hosts.
"It is a good surface, a typical Chennai wicket," Kumble said.
"It should be good for batting and as the game progresses, the spinners will come into the picture."
The big guns coming to India
Kumble is expected to partner off spinner Harbhajan Singh alongside pacers Rudra Pratap Singh and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
Rahul Dravid is 80 runs short of completing 10,000 test runs.
He will become only the sixth batsman ever and the third Indian after Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar to achieve the feat.
Victory in Chennai will kick-start India's season, which also involves home test series against England and Australia.
"We've a lot of test cricket coming up this year," Kumble said.
"In that regard, this will be the beginning of what will be a good long season for test cricket."
He felt South African pace attack will be a big challenge despite their leading paceman Shaun Pollock's retirement.
"They will certainly miss Pollock's experience and skill but as a unit they have done well in the last couple of series in the sub-continent.
"You should give them that credit. They've always been a competitive side.
"With Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, and Jacques Kallis as well, they are a good bowling unit."