South Africa A v India A, 2nd unofficial Test, Pretoria August 23, 2013

Return to Pretoria's flat track for finale

ESPNcricinfo staff

As India A gear up for their final match on the tour to South Africa, a four-day fixture that begins in Pretoria on Saturday, it is the pitch that comes into sharp focus. The one-day tri-series that preceded the Rustenburg four-day game was played in Pretoria, and high scores were the norm in that tournament. The tracks were as flat as they get, and more of the same could be expected for the long-format match.

South Africa A would be thankful for that, as they look to square the series. India crushed them by an innings and 13 runs in Rustenburg; the visitors had the best of batting conditions and then, as the pitch began to deteriorate and slow, their bowlers finished the job.

For India, Shikhar Dhawan will be particularly glad to return to Pretoria, where he smashed a record 248 off 150 balls during the one-dayers. Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, who scored hundreds in the Rustenburg match, will be hoping to further their chances of returning to South Africa later in the year with the senior team - though Pujara did admit his team-mates know better than to expect similar conditions in that much-anticipated Test series.

For now, the Indian batsmen looking to make a final mark will be helped by the fact that South Africa will be without pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was included in the squad but is away due to family reasons. Marchant de Lange will miss out too, as he is still recovering from the rib injury he picked up during South Africa A's four-day game against Australia A at the end of July. JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell, who were two of the better performers in the first match, are unlikely to be rested.

This match will also mark the final game in a unique coaching initiative for South Africa. Six franchise coaches - Cape Cobra's Paul Adams, Dolphins' Lance Klusener, Warriors' Piet Botha, Lions' Geoffrey Toyana, Knights' Sarel Cilliers and Titans' Malibongwe Maketa - had all assisted South Africa A head coach Vincent Barnes during the team's series against Australia A and India A over the past six weeks.

"This gave our domestic coaches an opportunity to work in this environment against international opposition," Barnes said. "It has worked well because they bring in a lot of experience as assistant coaches and their interaction is important for this [High Performance] programme. Our relationship with the coaches is a lot stronger and that is beneficial going forward."

Cilliers said the tough track in Rustenburg provided the players and the coaches with a good learning experience. "It was a good opportunity to tap into the other players' mindsets. Our players were tested in difficult conditions in Rustenburg and that not only exposed their short-comings, but also gave a valuable indication of the areas to work on so that we give more accomplished cricketers to the national team."

Adams, the former South Africa spinner, termed the initiative a "platform for growth". "It was a great experience, being afforded the opportunity to work with the top crop of players in the country," he said. "I particularly enjoyed getting a different take on game tactics and situations from the players. It is a great platform as it is another way of creating growth amongst the players and the coaches."

As the programme winds down in Pretoria, South Africa's team of coaches will be hoping some of that growth is visible.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    Its funny how people are going after Indian team even after their thumping win in the first unofficial test..agreed that conditions will be totally different..bowlers and batsmen of the real SA team will be of a class apart..but haven't we done fairly well in the last tour and one before that against the same team? and some people termed Asian teams a flat track bullies etc. etc. if its so the how come opposition found that same flat track to be a menacing one? when ball spins and bounces? batsmen quality cannot and should not be judged only on the basis of how he played against fast bowlers on juicy pitches but also on how he handled the slow bowlers on slower and cracked wickets..same goes for fast bowler if he cannot take wickets on flat pitches then there is lack of skill on his part..every team prepares wickets according to their strength worldwide its nothing to be ashamed off, don't forget that invincible Australian team took 35 years and numerous tours to win a series in India

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    Struggling against the lower half has almost become fashionable for Indian attack. The choice is whether they should start the struggle, after getting 4 top wickets or 5 ( I am writing this in the middle of the 27th over)

  • GAURAV on August 24, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    I hope south africa A put up some decent score to support the article "Back to flat track of pretoria", by cricinfo. As I write, Openers have already been knocked over. Aslo waiting people to write, now, that India got huge advantage bowling first. And in november-december the astrologer has said that they won't win any toss on specially designed green tracks.

  • GAURAV on August 24, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Indian team is trying very hard to make this game competitive by leaving out rohit, raina, dhawan and other. Some mercy on south africa A and their cricket board.

  • GAURAV on August 24, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Ok, Cricinfo, so pitches are flat. Right! then also you need to give credit to indian bowlers for picking 20 wickets and winning a match by innings. People tend to realize that cricket is a game of bowlers and batsmen. So if you are saying that pitches will be lot more conducive in november, one can imagine the type of havov indian bowlers can create on friendly condition, when they are looking menacing on flattest wicket every produces, as per cricinfo report. You need to give credit to india. Any attempt to take credit away, just won't work!

  • suabhdeep on August 24, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    As it is quite clear the this tour is a notorious humiliation of Indian cricket and BCCI, as usual accepted it just for the sake of money. CSA has no respect for Indian cricket or the people as a whole, they ensure everything to make this series as useless as possible. No players get benefit from this tour playing on flattest of the surfaces against 4th graded SA attack. Only good thing is the players and their wives or girl friends have a nice shopping trip in SA.

  • Srinivasan on August 24, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Is it just me or the article related to India always has a hint of negativity to India's performance? For instance, check the last 4 lines for the 2nd paragraph. Not even the Indian authors give enough credit for the Indians. On the other hand, yesterday's play in ashes was the most boring day I ever seen but the English commentators twisted words to describe as a 'skill' to save a test match, 'intriguing' etc.

  • Android on August 24, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    test series in November would be a different ball game with green top and hostile bowling attack of Steyn, Merkel, Philander, etc and solid batting (Amla, Kallis, Smith...). India should play out of their skin to survive forget winning

  • ZCF on August 24, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    All eyes on Lorgat, Hudson, and their peers. Thami did well, Bavuma contributed well too. Will Gqamane be added to that lost to make it 3 African players? After the way a lot of our attack bowled, he surely must be in to show what he's capable of in his strongest format!

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    Very good that the Indian bench seems strong but actual and definitive assessment can be made only on bouncy and green pitches.................. Flat pitches have always been the strength of our expansive batsmen but the real test would be in spicy test wickets ...............

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