Stylish middle-order batsman VVS Laxman said on Tuesday a good start would be the key to India's improved performance in the Test series against South Africa beginning later this month.
"Whenever we have had a good opening start, we have done well and that would absolutely be the key for the Tests," said Laxman after nets at Sedgars Park in Potchefstroom.
The Hyderabadi had no doubt that the Indian side, which lost the recent ODI series 4-0, was capable of doing far better than what they had done on the tour so far.
"India have the potential to do well for we have a lot of match-winners. We can also take a leaf out of our overseas performance in recent years, particularly on the tour to Australia in 2003-04 and then against the West Indies this year."
Laxman stressed that his focus was now entirely on the Test series and the possibility of leading India in a Test in case of Rahul Dravid's absence was farthest removed from his mind.
"I hope and pray that Rahul is fit for the first Test -- and I am sure he would be. He is absolutely the key to our batting. Leading India is an honour for any cricketer but I hope it doesn't come to that and Rahul is ready for the role,"
Dravid, who held a bat in his hand for the first time today since chipping his right middle finger in the third one-day international in Cape Town on November 26, is likely to turn up for the first Test even if it would mean going against medical advice.