Last time when South Africa played a Test series in India, they suffered an embarrassing loss. They toured the country in 2015 to play four Tests and eventually lost three. That series loss, where Indian spinners wreaked havoc, might still be playing in heads of South African players and to make things more difficult, some of their Test stalwarts have retired.
Ahead of the first Test between India and South Africa at Visakhapatnam, opening batsman Aiden Markram spoke about losing big names like AB De Villiers, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla but said other players have to step up and take the responsibility.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times in an interview, Markram said, "Losing Hashim, from the batting perspective, and Dale is massive. They are legends you would never be able to replace. It is a lot like when Jacques Kallis and AB (de Villiers) retired. Ideally, the other batters would like to share the load now and play with a bit more responsibility in getting the team over the line."
De Villiers, who played 114 Tests and scored at an average of 50, retired from international cricket in 2018, while Amla made his retirement call in August this year. Just like De Villiers, Amla has played over 100 Tests and scored 9,282 runs at an average of 46.
In the absence of the two key batsmen, the onus of scoring runs and making an impact in the three-Test series will be on likes of Markram, skipper Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and newcomer Zubayr Hamza. In the bowling department, Kagiso Rabada will spearhead the pacers while Keshav Maharaj and Dane Piedt will look to cause trouble on spin-friendly wickets.
The conditions will obviously be very tough for South Africa and pulling off a series victory will be a big ask for Proteas. However, Markram said his team have prepared well and are raring to have a go against the No 1 ranked side.
"Our preparations have gone well. We have been here for 3-4 weeks with the ‘A’ side and played two four-day games, which was nice to acclimatise to the conditions in India. The preparations have gone really well for us as a side. The guys seem in good spirits and full of energy, which is exciting," Markram said.
The first Test will begin on 2 October at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium followed by two more matches in Pune and Ranchi.
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