The next generation of South African players are primed and excited for the upcoming four-Test series against India starting in Mohali on Thursday. Most of the newcomers in the squad, which is going through a transitional period, will have an opportunity to establish their fledging careers in testing conditions and against an indomitable force that is India at home. Proteas opening batsman, Dean Elgar, says he is expecting a fierce contest between bat and ball, and has prepared for the spin barrage which could start as early as the first over of the innings: ‘It’s an aspect that we have been using with regards to our preparation. We know that the three days leading up to a Test match are quite important and we have to cover a lot of aspects of batting on the sub-continent. You have to sharpen your game up when you are here, and that sometimes means facing a spinner with the new ball, which is totally foreign for us back home. It is something that you have to adapt to, we are all professionals, we have to adapt to the various encounters and conditions.’
Temba Bavuma, who made his highest Test score of 54 against Bangladesh in August, says he is ready to fill the void in a ‘world-class’ batting order if JP Duminy is unavailable for selection due to a hand injury. Bavuma says: ‘They are big boots to fill. If you look at our top seven batters, those are all world-class cricketers. Coming into the team and being asked to fulfil any type of role is big but it’s something that I’m going to have to embrace if the opportunity comes my way.’ Spin and the expected conditions at the IS Bindra Stadium have been the talking points in the build-up to the opening Test, and while pace remains the Proteas’ go-to option, Simon Harmer is confident that the spinners will be able to fulfil their roles according to the situation.
Harmer says: ‘For me, the lines and the way you bowl depend on the wicket. On the morning of Day one you are not going to bowl wide outside of off-stump because you are going to go for runs, so it will be dependent on the wickets that we play on. On Day four and five you have to look to be attacking, I don’t think you will look to bowl defensively unless you are 500 runs behind. I think our spinners will bowl attacking lines when the need arises.’