Tough Indian summer awaits Momentum Proteas
CAPE TOWN - A tour to India may no longer be the daunting prospect it was previously, but it remains arguably the biggest challenge in world cricket.
The hotels and stadiums have improved beyond imagination and now even outshine many first world countries' accommodation and stadia. But all of that has only created a false sense of comfort for the cricket out in the middle remains as relentless as ever in often unforgiving conditions.
The Proteas Women's team, who are back on the subcontinent for a five-match ODI and three-game T20I series starting in Lucknow on Sunday, are fully aware, though, of the gauntlet ahead of them.
Coach Hilton Moreeng's side were whitewashed 3-0 in their last ODI series here in 2019, and furthermore the Proteas Women have won just two out of seven ODIs since visiting India for the first time in 1997.
However, the Kimberly-born coach believes it’s lessons learnt from those drubbings that have adequately prepared them for these series.
"Indian conditions are not easy for a touring team. But most of us in the squad have been exposed to these conditions before. Our last visit to India was not a joyful one because of the way the results went," Moreeng told the media yesterday.
"But the players learnt from that tour. A lot of the youngsters who were on that tour are back again and are eager to see how they will cope in those conditions now. Another challenge though is that it's the first time we're at this venue, nobody knows anything about it, and if there is someone, it's very limited. We will see how it goes."
South Africa have, though, a major advantage over their Indian counterparts heading into this series. They recently played two highly-competitive ODI and T20I series against Pakistan in Durban. In contrast, India have not played together since the T20 World Cup final against Australia in Melbourne a year ago due to Covid-19.
The fact that the series were played at Kingsmead was a "blessing in disguise" according to Moreeng, especially as the pitches used were slow and offered the spinners plenty of purchase.
"Durban was surprising for all of us in terms of the way the conditions played. We take a lot out of it as a team in terms of the way the players adapted to the conditions. To still get the desired results in those conditions was pleasing for us. We were very pleased especially as it was our first series since coming back from Covid, " he said.
"Now coming to India we expect similar conditions, but you never know as anything could happen on the day. Overall though I think it was a blessing in disguise that we were exposed to those conditions ahead of this tour."
This trip to India has its own unique demands though due to Covid-19. The entire series will be played in a bio-secure environment, while the tourists had to undergo a quarantine period upon arrival.
"It is our first experience being away from home in a bubble. It is very very different I can tell you. It was taxing on each and every one the first two/three days, but as time went on the players started adapting," Moreeng explained.