Rassie van der Dussen believes Quinton de Kock will "lead by example" in the upcoming three-match T20I series against India. With regular captain Faf du Plessis rested, de Kock has been given the chance to lead the T20I side, as South Africa trial leadership options ahead of next year's T20 World Cup.
"Quinton is one of those guys who leads by example," van der Dussen said. "He doesn't always say a lot, but when he speaks he says really valuable things. You get some guys who talk a lot, and some guys who don't. Quinny is one of those guys who prefers to lead from the front in terms of action. Everybody respects him for that."
De Kock, 26, is a regular starter for South Africa across formats and has lead the team twice before in ODIs in du Plessis' absence during South Africa's trip to Sri Lanka last year. He will be in charge of a fairly young side post a World Cup shake-up.
"We obviously know what he is as a player and how many games he's won for South Africa, and what he brings to the team in terms of cricketing capability. I think having the leadership band around his arm is just going to bring more out of him. He really wants to do well in India, always. We as a team really want to walk away with a series win. Everything we do is gearing up to that."
The South African squad has been put through their paces during the course of two "very tough" training sessions since their arrival in Dharamsala, where they will play the first of three T20Is on Sunday. Van der Dussen said the conditions there were "just a bit worse in terms of humidity and heat" compared to that of Durban's.
"We had a disappointing World Cup campaign, so now we've got the opportunity to make a really strong statement and bounce back from that." Rassie van der Dussen
"The boys have really worked hard. But we're playing against India, so we know we have to be at our best and put the hard yards in," van der Dussen said. "A few years ago, the Proteas played here and we beat India by seven wickets, chasing down 200. So it'll be a very good wicket to bat on. It will be challenging for the bowlers. The boundaries are about 65 metres all around, which is not very big. We know what India is going to throw at us, and we're preparing accordingly."
Just two members of South Africa's squad - David Miller and Kagiso Rabada - were part of the playing XI that beat India at this venue the last time South Africa visited, but de Kock also has extensive experience of Indian conditions from his several IPL stints.
"Wherever you go, you've got to look at the conditions and the guys who know the conditions.
"Guys like Quinton and David Miller have played a lot of cricket here, so all of us that are having our first experience in T20 cricket here will look to feed off them and talk to them, and ask a lot of questions about how the conditions will play, the different bowlers. We've got to use everything we can to our advantage against a very strong Indian side, so we'll definitely look to do that."
The upcoming T20Is will mark South Africa's first international engagement since the World Cup in England earlier this year. Van der Dussen said that the games will allow South Africa to bounce back from their disastrous run at the tournament and also begin their preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.
"We had a disappointing World Cup campaign, so now we've got the opportunity to make a really strong statement and bounce back from that," he said. "There's a T20 World Cup in just over a year. We've got 20 T20 games before that, so this will show us exactly where we are, playing against one of the strongest teams in the world. If we win, we know we're on the right track. If we fall short in one or two of the games, we'll know exactly what we need to work on.
"India is one of the strongest teams in the world. They're in their home conditions. For us, it's going to be a massive challenge. They've been together and played some cricket recently against the West Indies. That will give us the advantage of seeing who is in their squad and what they're likely to do."