Pitches with bounce and seam movement have always posed severe tests of technique and temperament for the Indian batsmen. This is precisely why the India ‘A’ tour of South Africa assumes significance.Not just the batsmen, even the bowlers will have to adapt.
Brought up on Indian tracks, the pacemen will need to bowl a different length on the South African surfaces. And the spinners must rely on consistency and clever use of flight to strike in conditions not suited to their kind of bowling.
India ‘A’ will compete with South Africa ‘A’ and Australia ‘A’ in a tri-nation one-day series beginning in Pretoria on Thursday. The Cheshwar Pujara-led ‘A’ side includes several well known names such as Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina. These men will receive a valuable opportunity to adapt to the conditions and stake their claims. The India `A' team will then duel it out with South Africa `A' in two four-day `Tests.'
Focus on youngsters
There will also be much focus on several young names that hold promise. As an off-spinner who bowls with imagination and a daring batsman, Pervez Rasool will be watched with interest.
The talented Rasool — he claimed 33 wickets at 18.09 and scored 594 runs at 54.00 in seven Ranji games last season — is someone who rips the sphere hard and bowls with a lovely side-on action. This also indicates, he has a clean action and really spins the ball.
The lanky Ishwar Pandey of Madhya Pradesh will be under scrutiny too. This 23-old Madhya Pradesh paceman was the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy last year with 48 scalps in eight matches at 21.06. The tall Pandey often extracts telling bounce from a high-arm action and does take the ball away from the right-hander. He has a semi-open release - such an action puts less stress on his back - and can send down long spells.
Punjab’s Siddharth Kaul — he grabbed 44 wickets at 23.79 from nine Ranji matches last year — is another paceman with possibilities. He moves the ball around at a brisk pace and has a deceptive short-pitched delivery.
As a hard-hitting batsman and an accurate medium-pacer, Stuart Binny is definitely value for money in the shorter version of the game. Jharkhand’s Shahbaz Nadeem is a steady left-arm spinner who can hold an end up.
Among the more senior cricketers, Ambati Rayudu will be keen to showcase his credentials for Test cricket. Importantly, he is sound off his back-foot and copes with short-pitched bowling from the quicks capably. And he is not short of the horizontal bat strokes or the back-foot punch.