Arthur unconcerned by lack of practice games

South Africa's coach Mickey Arthur played down concerns that the team will be under-prepared for the Test series against India, which they go into without any practice games.

A scheduled warm-up game against India A was cancelled but Arthur said South Africa's tours of Pakistan and Bangladesh in the last six months have given them enough experience of subcontinental conditions. "There have been a lot of noises about not playing a warm-up match, but we've been in the subcontinent a huge amount lately and the guys are sound in terms of the different techniques required," he told Reuters.

"Warm-up games tend to be good for the first day and a half, and then the intensity wanes," he said. "We believe we can replicate a warm-up game quite easily with some intensive centre practices.

"Coming home (after the successful Bangladesh tour which ended on March 14) has allowed the team to be refreshed and re-energised, and we thought it was the best way to re-focus on getting back into the swing of things. We know it will be hard work, but it's a mental shift more than anything else."

After a week which saw Charl Langeveldt pull out of the India tour saying he did not want to be included on the basis of his colour, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith admitted the team had been affected by the selection controversy. "The evidence of this week shows that the off-field stuff does have an effect on the team," Smith said. "There are a few things we need to work through, they can't be left undealt with. We need to find a way to deal with these issues so we can concentrate on the cricket."

The first Test of the three-match series starts in Chennai on Wednesday.