• Proteas selectors should be on Hamza alert

     Zubayr Hamza’s new and improved game plan could do the trick on the subcontinent for South Africa A.  

    South Africa A drew their four-day warm-up match against India A in Bengaluru on Wednesday, having posted 473-4d in their first innings (with Sarel Erwee top-scoring with an impressive 117 off 137 balls) and 61-2 in their second, to which India A had replied with 397-6.

    The tour is not focused on results but, rather, on the individual performances and personal growth that takes place during the tour. For many of the players, including Hamza, this tour is destined to be a stepping stone to greater things.

    Although the warm-up game never tested the young batsman’s new skills, he certainly brought his form from the 2017-18 domestic season for the Cobras with him to the subcontinent. In a team full of experienced domestic campaigners, the 23-year-old stepped up and proved his ability once again, scoring an unbeaten 104 off 166 balls as he expressed his ability to read – and adjust to – the conditions.

    Bengaluru is usually a wicket with more pace and bounce because it is at altitude, so the wickets generally tend to be better to bat on,’ Hamza told SA Cricket magazine. ‘It was uncharacteristic of the usual dry and dusty Indian pitches as there was quite a bit of cloud cover, rain and dew around so the wicket didn’t spin much. It was actually quite similar to a South African wicket.’ 

    If Hamza continues with his rich vein of form, he could find himself being looked at as the potential missing piece of the Proteas’ top order in Test matches. The spin camp in India that he attended from 28 April to 6 May also helped him absorb valuable knowledge about subcontinent conditions, all of which he has added to his game plan.

    ‘I’m slowly getting a bit more used to playing in these conditions. I’m trying my best to keep things as simple as possible and am trusting in my strengths in terms of shot selection,’ Hamza added.

    ‘The spin camp helped me in preparing myself for tough conditions. It allowed me to formulate and play around a simple game plan and, fortunately, that paid off in the past game.

    ‘I have fitted the basics I learned at the spin camp into my game plan and have used it so far. Hopefully, I can continue to learn how to play in these conditions in order to improve my game plan and put in some good performances in the games that follow.’

    SA A’s first four-day match against India A starts on Saturday.

    SA A vs India Board XI Scorecard

    South Africa A tour of India fixture list 

    Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

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    Khalid Mohidin