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Adaptation biggest challenge for SA: coach

Adaptation biggest challenge for SA: coach

South Africa and India will start the two-match Test series in two days' time.

Nagpur: The limited time at their disposal to adapt to the local conditions is the biggest challenge for South Africa ahead of their opening Test against India, team’s coach Corrie Van Zyl said here on Thursday.

“My biggest challenge is to prepare the players in such a congested time to these conditions from the bouncy wickets of South Africa. We have to get in as many practice sessions as possible and obviously the two-day game (against the Cricket Board President’s XI that concluded yesterday) has helped tremendously," said Van Zyl at an interactive session with the mediapersons at the team hotel.

The two teams will start the two-match series here in two days’ time.

Van Zyl, who took over the reins from Mickey Arthur just a few days before the team left for India in a significant makeover of the coaching and selection panels, said the key to doing well was to face up to the challenging conditions.


“The key lies in making sure our mindset is right for the challenge in these difficult conditions," said the 48-year-old former cricketer who had come eight years ago as an assistant coach to India.

Van Zyl expected the wicket to help the spinners in the Test series opener starting at the new VCA Stadium in Jamtha on the outskirts of this Orange City on Saturday.

“We had a look at the wicket yesterday and it does not have the same amount of grass as we saw in the practice match.

It looks like it will turn. It’s still early days and it will give us a better indication tomorrow. But you can’t really say about the bounce now unless you play on it. That’s something we need to assess," Van Zyl said about the track for the Test.

The new coach felt irrespective of the wicket prepared for the match, his team had the pace bowlers to do well on any surface.

“If you are a fine fast bowler, you should adapt to any kind of wicket. Having quality fast bowlers capable of bowling at 140km plus, and three of them at that, those guys are going to be effective on any kind of wicket," he said.

South Africa’s pace battery comprises Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell.

“It’s a question of getting the right line and length on surfaces like that and that’s what we are working on. You need to assess what’s the right length and control. We are working on the control issue," he said.

Van Zyl said the absence of an injured Rahul Dravid, who has been advised three weeks rest after a jaw surgery, will hurt the Indian team.

“Rahul is obviously a big player in the Indian team, we just have to see who India are going to play in that number three spot. There are other quality players. We are not putting too much emphasis on that (Dravid’s absence)," Van Zyl explained.

“The Indian team is really worried about the fact that they have lost a stalwart (Dravid). Let’s put it like that," he said.

Asked whether the sacking of Arthur and the selection panel has impacted the team, Van Zyl said things have settled down after the turmoil.

“A good structure has been put in place. The coaching staff has not changed much, except that myself and Mickey have changed around and (CSA) have added Kepler Wessels to the coaching staff (as batting consultant). Everyone has settled in. It’s now a question of getting the guys focused on cricket," he declared.

first published:February 04, 2010, 15:34 IST