DURBAN – The South African ‘A’ side are happily settled in their Bengaluru abode and looking ahead to starting the serious bit of business that they are in India for.
Tomorrow they take on India ‘A’ in the first of two four-day ‘Tests’, both to be held in the bustling metropolis.
In many ways, the trip to India is low-key, with both senior sides on away trips at the same time. India are involved in an intriguing battle with England at Edgbaston, while the Proteas are looking to save face in the ODI series against Sri Lanka after a dizzy Test series defeat.
In isolation, the meeting of the second-tier teams is a good exercise for experience, but it swells in significance when observed from the view that the Proteas visit India in just over a year, after a World Cup that may be the swansong of several players - on both sides.
“This trip is a chance for guys to put their hands up and stake a claim for the tour here next year,” assistant-coach Grant Morgan agreed.
“We have had a really good week and we will be up against some very good players on the fringes of the India squad. It is a great opportunity and the guys are looking forward to going out there and proving themselves.”
The warm-up match took place at the iconic M Chinnaswamy Stadium, which will also be the venue for the opening ‘Test’. To their surprise, the tourists found conditions that were not too dissimilar from what they may find back home, with the track offering some pace and bounce.
“It was quite hard and there was some seam for the quicks. It wasn’t quite the carry we are used to but it had a bit of The Wanderers feel to it,” Morgan noted. “You can never be too sure what they are going to produce for us, but they may just see this as an opportunity to test themselves against some pace.
“We have a few quicks in our ranks and we have also seen how far Indian quick bowling has come in the last few years. Maybe they want to build on that because they are very keen on becoming a very good team on the road,” Morgan observed.
That said, Morgan has worked in India before and he still anticipates that a slow burner will still confront them at some stage.
That would be a better experience for a middle order that is firmly in the sights of the Proteas selectors, and hard-earned runs in the heat of India would not hurt anyone’s ambitions.
“The funny thing is that we also haven’t had a proper muggy day on the field yet. It has been quite cloudy, pleasant even. We know that being India, the heat will eventually be a factor and that will also be good for the guys to experience.”
There is a chipper mood in the camp and Morgan added that there is an increasing buzz around the team. India lives for cricket, regardless of the level, so the arrival of a few familiar names would not have gone unnoticed.
“We had a bit of a crowd in the warm-up match and I am sure there will be a few more turning up when we start the proper series. That will be good to have a bit of an atmosphere and give something else for the players to think about.”