MOHALI - Indian captain Virat Kohli and his South African counterpart Hashim Amla on Wednesday attempted to douse the fire over dry, turning wickets that are likely to be prepared for the Test series.

The build-up to the four-match series, which opens in Mohali on Thursday, has centred around India's preference to play on rank turners to defeat the world's number one Test side. Kohli said too much was being made of the wicket, while Amla said the tourists expected nothing less than a pitch that would help spinners when playing a Test in India.

"Pitches are never the focus when we tour abroad," said Kohli, who will go out to toss on Thursday on his 27th birthday. He said the issue of pitch quality "seems to come into focus only when we play in India.""If you win in difficult conditions, you will get more satisfaction. If pitches need to be similar then they should be so all around the world," he added.

He said only the International Cricket Council could establish a uniform rule about pitch quality. "If certain conditions are expected, you prepare for that, just like we do. That's why teams which are at the top are the ones that play well away from home," Kohli said.

MATCH STARTS AT 9:00 aM

Amla said he was proud of South Africa 's record of not having lost a series abroad since 2006. The top-order batsman, who captains only in Test matches even though he is a key member of the limited-overs squad, said it was only fair for home nations to prepare wickets that suit them.

"If you come to South Africa , you will get South African type of wickets," he said. "As a player wherever I go in the world, I expect conditions to suit the home team. It doesn't really matter to us what sort of wicket we get. Playing India in India is one of the tougher challenges for any team and we relish the thought of coming out on top."South Africa has not won a Test series on Indian soil since 2000, having drawn 1-1 on its last two visits in 2008 and 2010. The Proteas are confident after winning both the preceding Twenty20 and the one-day series, but Amla himself will look to strike timely form after making just 89 runs in the five one-dayers.

"I would have loved to get runs in ODIs, but when you don't get them you feel a good run is around the corner," he said. Kohli said his young side, ranked fifth in the world, looked forward to the challenge of playing good cricket against the highly-fancied South Africans.

"Every series is challenging because we are a young side and are looking to go up in Test cricket," he said. "We plan to focus on our game and not on the opposition."

Both teams will finalise their playing elevens before the toss, but Amla confirmed that JP Duminy will not be available for the first Test due to a hand injury suffered during the one-dayers.