India’s Rohit Sharma backs his young guns to stand up to Proteas challenge

Rohit Sharma of India during the 1st Test Cricket match between South Africa and India at Supersport Park in Centurion

Skipper Rohit Sharma, who only made five and nought in the first Test against South Africa, will be hoping for a strong response in Cape Town from his India team.Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jan 2, 2024


India’s young batsmen will simply have to find a way to cope with South Africa’s "challenging" conditions, Indian captain Rohit Sharma said on Tuesday.

Sharma said he did not expect conditions for the second Test, starting at Newlands on Wednesday, to be much different from those at Centurion, where India were beaten by an innings in the first Test last week.

"The pitch looks pretty similar to Centurion," he said. "Maybe not full of grass but there is enough covering of grass on the pitch.”

Sharma missed his team’s tour two seasons ago because of injury but said teammates who were in Cape Town said conditions appeared to be much as they were then, when the highest team total in a tightly-contested match, won by South Africa, was 223.

Indian batters’ struggles

Three of India’s top six batsmen are on their first tour of South Africa and they all struggled at Centurion. Sharma, who only made five and nought, said they would have benefitted from the first game.

"At some stage we all have to be exposed to conditions like this," he said.

"I am sure they will have learned a lot from the first game and tomorrow is another opportunity for them to understand what is required.

"It is challenging but that’s what Test cricket is about," he said.

Sharma said inexperience had also affected India’s bowling in Centurion.

"That can happen, it’s understandable, but it’s about putting your faith and trust in them to get the job done."

Earlier, on the eve of his 86th and final Test match, Dean Elgar said he was "sad" South Africa would be sending a weakened team to play two Test matches in New Zealand in March.

"The situation we've been put in is not ideal," Elgar said on Tuesday, ahead of the second Test at Newlands, where he will captain South Africa in his last match before retiring from international cricket.

Only two of the players who won the first Test by an innings last week will be travelling to New Zealand -– the result of a decision by Cricket South Africa to prioritise the SA20 franchise competition.

"Irrespective of what has happened behind the scenes there is still a lot of hunger (for Test cricket) from the guys who are playing," he said.