Good performances from Andrel Nel (3 for 14) and Johan Botha, the offspinner, restricted the opposition to just 127. Botha took 3 for 34 in his 10 overs, impressing with the sharp bounce and turn he extracted from the pitch, and justifying the selectors' decision to include him as their specialist spinner for the tour to India.
Speaking to SuperCricket, Graeme Smith, the South African captain, said Botha's performance, though against a weaker team, was just the start the team was looking for. "I was very satisfied with the spin Johan achieved. Even our opponents' spinners did not get the same kind of movement. He changes his speed and also has good control. We don't want to put too much pressure on him too soon and I think the tour will be valuable experience for him." Botha is expected to make his debut in Wednesday's match at Hyderabad as Smith and Mickey Arthur, the coach, have indicated that the same team could play.
Smith himself scored 44 and AB de Villiers top scored with an unbeaten 56 as South Africa easily ran down the Hyderabad Board XI's meager total. Speaking on de Villier's knock, Smith said that it was good to see him among the runs, adding that he looked comfortable once settled in. "I think the time AB spent at the crease will do a lot for his self confidence. Net practice is just not the same," he said.
de Villiers, who struggled in the recent one-day series against New Zealand, remains unperturbed by his run of low scores in the shorter format of the game. "My form most of the time has been very good, in fact it's been a while since I've been in such good form. (Unfortunately) the runs are just not coming, but... it's just a question of time," de Villiers told The Independent. "It's just the nature of one-day cricket; if you're a little bit unlucky then you can get five ducks in a row. If it's your day you can get 150, if not, you get nothing." South Africa will hope for the aggressive opener to fire as they look to continue their fine record of 19 matches without a loss.
In the 12 one-day matches he has played in, de Villiers has yet to make a noteworthy score, and an average of just 17 seems way below what is expected of an audacious strokemaker. However, he is confident that a big score is around the corner, adding that adapting to Indian surfaces is not a major worry. "It's just in the mind I think. There are a few small things, nothing major. You're looking to play straight, the ball stays low and it swings for the first five overs." With Irfan Pathan, the medium fast bowler, getting the ball to move a fair amount in India's 6-1 drubbing of Sri Lanka, de Villiers is well aware of the threat that he poses at the start of the innings. "It swings more than in South Africa. So your technique needs to be perfect for the first five overs. But once you're set it's much easier."
In a surprise move, Justin Ontong was announced as replacement while Andrew Hall, Albie Morkel and Robbie Peterson did not make the team. Even though Ontong was included in the squad as batsman, Smith and the team management have decided to use him as an allrounder. "Onters can deliver a few overs as spinner, while we can also bat him at No.3 to get the most from him in the 20 overs when fielding restrictions apply," Smith said. "To give guys exposure to the conditions here are exactly what we said we would do on this tour."
The first of five one-day matches begins November 16 at Hyderabad, and is the only day match.