Liam Brickhill is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
South Africa might still be carrying "a bit of baggage" from their last trip to India, opening batsman Aiden Markram has said. Markram wasn't in the set-up last time around, but several members of the current touring party were part of the team that lost the Test series 3-0 four years ago. Despite the challenges ahead, Markram insisted that South Africa would not be dwelling on the difficulty of the conditions in India.
"I remember watching that series a few years ago and it looked incredibly difficult," Markram said. "I'm sure there's a bit of baggage that certain players that were on that tour might still be carrying but that's completely fine. I think it's never an easy tour coming to anywhere in the subcontinent, let alone India. It's full of challenges, but if we can conquer those challenges it will be really rewarding."
Fresh from a hundred against India A, Markram is aiming to "nit-pick at those positives" that come from time at the crease, but expects conditions in the upcoming Test series to be very different.
"There's always a couple of positives from spending time at the crease. I'm trying to nit-pick at those positives and take as much as I can from those knocks," Markram said. "Preparation going into this series is gonna be massive and each little bit that we can take going into the series will help."
Markram is likely to open the batting for South Africa in the upcoming three-match series against India, starting on October 2 in Visakhapatnam, He tuned up for that challenge by top-scoring with 161 in Mysore last week.
His runs meant South Africa A were able to draw the game, having slumped to a seven-wicket defeat in the first four-day game in Thiruvananthapuram.
"From a personal perspective, it was nice to spend time out in the middle," Markram said. "I think the wickets we get [in the Tests] will be a lot different to the wickets we got in the A series. But like I said, it's nice to spend time out there. And in the field as well, it was nice for us as fielders to be on our feet for long periods of time and for our bowlers to bowl plenty of spells in these hot conditions. We took a lot from the A side games and we're ready to go in the Test matches.
"The guys are positive and upbeat and we're maintaining really good language in the change room, really strong language. At the end of the day, we're not going to harp on about conditions. We pretty much know what to expect and we just need to get the job done."
Markram is returning to a Test squad that has been shaken up by the retirements of some high-profile personnel, with Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn both bowing out. While players of that calibre undoubtedly leave a massive hole to fill, Markram said that the changes have been invigorating for the team environment.
"It's nice to be back in the camp," he said. "There's a lot of new faces and it's exciting times with the change of staff and quite a few new players as well. There's lots of new and refreshing energy in the camp and the guys look to be in good spirits so we're looking forward to the series."
Before the three-Test series begins in October, South Africa will play a three-day warm-up match against a Board President's XI starting on Thursday in Vizianagaram.