Team India head coach Duncan Fletcher has admitted that the fact that Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar is not part of a Test side on an away tour will be hard to digest for the players. Speaking to the media on arrival in Johannesburg on Monday for the three-ODI, two-Test tour of South Africa, Fletcher said playing without Tendulkar will be a hard pill to swallow for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Team India. (Read: BCCI-Cricket South Africa 'Cold War' won't affect us, hints Mahendra Singh Dhoni)
"It's difficult from a point of view that the last Test we played in he was with us, so we haven't played without him," said Fletcher. (Read: India like a runaway train, won't be intimidated by bouncers, says Dale Steyn)
Fletcher said the effect of Tendulkar's absence will only hit the team when they play the first Test, starting December 18. (Read: Virat Kohli can step into Sachin Tendulkar's shoes, says Allan Donald)
"So we're only going to have those sort of feelings and emotions once we get to the Tests as he hasn't been in the One Day side for three years or so. It's a difficult one to answer until we've played that first Test and he's not in the side and not batting at number four," he said. (Read: We will fight fire with fire in South Africa, says MS Dhoni)
Tendulkar is the second in the list of highest run-getters by any visiting batsman in South Africa, behind England great Wally Hammond (1,447 in 15 Tests) with 1161 runs at an impressive average of 46.44 including five hundreds and three fifties in 15 Tests. Incidentally, the last of Tendulkar's hundreds - No.50th and 51st - came in South Africa, where his 326 runs at an average of 81.50 proved vital for India to draw the three-match series 1-1 in 2010-11. (Read: Mahendra Singh Dhoni hints he will miss Gautam Gambhir in South Africa)
The 65-year-old former England coach also said that the pace-friendly pitches in South Africa would not be a great concern for India. The Zimbabwean pointed out India's triumphs in the Champions Trophy, and in the West Indies (tri-series) as indicators of their form and confidence.
"In the West Indies there are similar conditions to here to some degree and the same sort of bowlers. We have won a good series away from home, but some of the wickets will change. Some of the wickets will have a bit more bounce but the players can handle that bounce," Fletcher said.