Cape Town - The Castle Lager Proteas will begin their transition into Test match mode when they face a Board President’s XI in a two-day warm-up match starting in Mumbai on Friday. The squad is recharged after a two-day break in Goa and will channel their attention to the important last leg of the tour after successive T20 International and One-Day International (ODI) series wins.
Proteas opener, Stiaan van Zyl, says although the squad is confident after the success from the limited-overs series, both teams will start on an even keel when the first Test gets underway in Mohali next Thursday.
“Yes we are confident but it’s a completely new series,” he said after practice at the Cricket Club of India on Thursday. “It will be important for the players to get into their Test match roles again and to change the mindset. We have to go back to the basics and play the normal Test cricket that has brought us success in the past.”
Van Zyl learnt a lot of lessons during the South Africa ‘A’ tour of India in August, where he top-scored with 96 in challenging conditions combined with the pressure of facing nearly 70 overs of spin each day. The left-hander says technical and mental adjustments will be important in countering the conditions and the expected spin barrage from the hosts.
“Yes I did have a decent run during the SA ‘A’ side series in Kerala,” Van Zyl said. “This is a different level but I do take some confidence going into the Test series after having done well on the sub-continent wickets. I am confident about my game but I know I will be tested a lot in the upcoming series.
“For me coming here is obviously different to South Africa,” he explained. “The wickets are slower so you have to survive playing against a lot of spin. Working you game out against spin is quite crucial when you come here, you can’t neglect the seam upfront but you have to wrap your head around facing a lot of spin. You have to have your game plan set and to score in the areas that you are good at.”
The series also offers the new opening pair of Van Zyl and Dean Elgar the chance to build on the solid start they had in the washed out series against Bangladesh in August.
“I have played with him (Elgar) for a few years so we know each other’s game really well,” he said. “We like to bat for long periods so we know the different stages that we go through when building an innings. Even though we are two lefties upfront I think we complement each other. I’m looking forward to having a long stint with him opening the batting.”
Michael Hussey has re-joined the squad as batting consultant for the build up to the first Test.
Morne Morkel continues to make positive progress following the right quad strain he sustained during the ODI series. He will continue to receive treatment and rehab while building up his bowling loads and intensity leading up to the first Test starting in Mohali next week.
JP Duminy remains a 50-50 chance after sustaining a laceration to his right hand during the ODI series. Further assessment of the injury can only be made once the stitches are removed in the next few days. Duminy will not take part in the two-day warm-up match.