Aiden Markram’s only experience of Test matches in the subcontinent, is not one he is keen to remember.
Two Tests, four innings, 97 balls faced, a highest score of 19 and and an aggregate of just 40 runs in Sri Lanka last year. He was dismissed by the wily Rangana Herath in all four innings.
Even though the evidence - at least in these early stages of his Test career - don’t back up the view he has trouble with spin, his poor form in Sri Lanka, now mean he has a ‘reputation,’ for struggling against spinners.
India, armed with three spinners, will have taken note. But Markram would not be unique in being described as a Proteas batsman who has trouble with the tweakers.
Having experienced a reasonably successful period on the subcontinent that included twice drawing series’ in India in 2008 and 2010 and winning in Sri Lanka in 2014, the Proteas in the last four years have once more garnered a ‘reputation’ as a batting unit that flounders against spinners.
In the last eight Tests the team has played in three series in the subcontinent and the batsmen have scored just one century and four half-centuries. It is no surprise the team didn’t win any of those matches.
To enable them to acclimatise quicker to Indian conditions, Cricket SA selected a SA A side containing eight members of the Test squad that will face Virat Kohli’s team in three Tests.
Markram was among those and his confidence would have been significantly boosted by his innings of 161 in the second innings of the second four-day match against India A last week. “It was nice to get runs,” he said yesterday after the SA squad had completed training in Vizianagaram where they will play a three-day game against an Indian Board XI.
Markram, Vernon Philander, Theunis de Bruyn, Lungi Ngidi and Senuram Muthusamy were among those who played a part in the A series and should be better prepared.
The withdrawal of Jasprit Bumrah on Tuesday due to a back injury, will most likely mean the Indians will once more lean heavily on their frontline spinners; Ravichandaran Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
From South Africa’s perspective, Markram said there would be no excuses. “It’s never an easy tour to the subcontinent. It’s full of challenges, but if we conquer those, it will be really rewarding. We are not going to harp on about conditions, we know what to expect and it’s about getting the job done,” he explained.