While a lot of the attention will be focused on South Africa’s spinners on the Indian tour, coach Russell Domingo still expects his seamers to play a big role in the team’s success.
The Proteas held their first training session of their tour of India on Monday morning at the Palam Ground in Delhi. The Air Force base is also the venue for the Proteas’ T20 warm-up match against a BCCI Board President’s XI on Tuesday.
The match does not carry official first-class status and both teams are allowed to use 13 players. Mike Hussey has joined the squad as a consultant and will be with the squad for the duration of the three-match T20I series.
‘It’s great to have Mike Hussey with us,’ T20 captain Faf du Plessis said. ‘He brings a lot of experience and has a great batting mind from which the younger batsmen can learn.’
Once again, as when South Africa toured Bangladesh earlier this year, the narrative has been shaped around South Africa’s experience in the IPL and how that will help them on this tour.
‘We know what is needed to do well in India,’ Domingo said, adding that South Africa are helped by the fact they are exceptionally good at touring.
‘The players enjoy each others company [on tour] for starters,’ he said. ‘There is a big camaraderie between them. Being from Africa, going to other places is not such a big challenge for us. We enjoy engaging with other cultures.’
Du Plessis said his knee was holding up well in training as he returns from a six week lay-off that forced him to miss South Africa’s previous series against New Zealand at home.
The T20 captain will be a major player for his team on this tour and he knows the Indian captain, MS Dhoni, well from their time together at the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
‘I’m fortunate to have played a lot of cricket under him. I’ve learned a lot from that. I know what he brings to the party. He is a very calm captain,’ Du Plessis said.
While South Africa will play only one warm-up match before the tour starts, Du Plessis said playing more games, while being beneficial, would only make the 72-day tour even longer.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will not be involved in the T20s, which gives players like Marchant de Lange and Chris Morris a chance to stake their claim for next year’s T20 World Cup.
South Africa have chosen to take three spinners on tour for the Test matches while Imran Tahir and Eddie Leie will also feature in the T20s. The visitors will, however, be aware that India are very good players of spin.
‘We have our plans against the India spinners,’ Domingo said. ‘Our fast bowlers have been successful here. Spin is going to be a factor but it’s important that our seamers start off really well for us. We have three good spinners and playing in these conditions will be a great experience for them.
‘But the seamers have done the business for us around the world and I expect them to play a big part in these conditions as well.’
The Proteas will face India as the No 1 Test team in the world but haven’t played decent Test cricket since before the World Cup against the West Indies.
‘We come here not having played a lot of Test cricket, but the advantage of that is that the players are very hungry to do well. They still see Test cricket as the pinnacle of cricket.
‘We are the No 1 Test side in the world and we want to hold on to that for a long period of time,’ Domingo said.