Duncan Fletcher to tour with India A
Duncan Fletcher, India's head coach, will tour with India A for both of their unofficial four-day Tests in South Africa. The two matches are scheduled to be played in Rustenburg between August 17 and 20, and Pretoria between August 24 and 27. India A recently won a one-day tri-series also featuring A teams from Australia and South Africa.
Cheteshwar Pujara, the India A captain, was optimistic about his side's chances ahead of the two Tests. "Winning the ODI series has given us a confidence boost going into the four-day series," Pujara said. "We played really well throughout that series, except for a couple of close games against Australia that we lost."
South Africa A had an indifferent ODI series, finishing bottom of the table with just one win in four matches. Their captain, Justin Ontong, said it was vital that his team regrouped and moved on.
"We had a disappointing ODI series but in saying that I still think we played good cricket," Ontong said. "It was particularly hard for the bowlers on those sort of decks, but I think we took a lot of lessons from that experience.
"We are in a very good space as a unit," he said. "Our four-day disciplines are where we want them to be. We are encountering new opposition, so it is a new challenge for us, and also a new opportunity for players to put in some noteworthy performances."
Both captains expect dry, bowler-friendly conditions, a change from the placid pitches at the LC de Villiers Oval in Pretoria that produced tall totals in the one-dayers. "If it turns, it will be helpful for us because we are used to playing in turning conditions," Pujara said. "But let's see how it will turn out. We know conditions in South Africa normally suit the fast bowlers. We will have a better idea of our playing XI once they have trained in the conditions."
Ontong, who is better acquainted with the local wickets, said, "We know this type of wicket is different from the HPC (Pretoria) wicket. As a batsman, you are never in. The seamers and spinners are always in the game. It's going to be a huge challenge for the batsmen to construct their innings and put on big scores. Patience is going to be the key."