Opinion: Do the Proteas have the quality to win in India

Do the Proteas have the quality to win in India

After a disappointing Cricket World Cup for the Proteas, the next big assignment for the team is the Test series against India away from home.

Not since December 2012 have India suffered a home Test series defeat, and South Africa's sole Test series win in the country came 19 years ago.

The Proteas would do well to take a match off of India, and a drawn series would be almost like a win for Faf du Plessis' team. The team will still be Du Plessis' to direct come October, despite CSA's overhaul of the team management structure.

Corrie van Zyl has been appointed interim Director of Cricket and is expected to name coaching staff, selectors and captains for the Proteas tour to India.

Van Zyl would have been foolish to foist on a new captain the task of taking on an imposing India side on their patch. The announcement that Du Plessis retained the Test captaincy came as no surprise.

Cricket South Africa hopes the new structure will enable greater vision across the three formats, and help implement best practice for the management of the Proteas.

What management does will count for little if the players sent to India are not up to the task.

After the poor showing in Sri Lanka last year the door is open for members of the South Africa A four-day side. Eight members of that squad have already been capped at Test level. Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma and Theunis de Bruyn are Test regulars.

Pace prospect Anrich Nortje will need to show he is fit and can handle the rigours of bowling quick on the subcontinent. Allrounder Wiaan Mulder faces a similar test of form and fitness.

Khaya Zondo hasn't made the most of his chances so far but he and Dane Piedt are offered shots at redemption. In Piedt's case, the selection is less hopeful, as Cobras skipper he has matured as a player and bowler. The A tour provides him with a real chance to seal a second spinners spot alongside Keshav Maharaj.

A lot of attention should also be given to the performances of the two spin-bowling allrounders in the squad. George Linde and Senuran Muthusamy are two players who could add a different dimension to the Proteas game. Muthusamy has shown himself capable of winning matches with bat or ball. Linde has made a name for himself in domestic T20 cricket but has also made contributions to the Cobras' first-class cause.

Pieter Malan is set for another A tour with the hopes that it may finally lead to a breakthrough into the Test team. You would be hard-pressed to find another first-class player who has done more to press his case for a Test call-up without receiving one.

Zubayr Hamza is a  Test capped batsman now but he still needs to impress on the A tour to ensure others don't usurp his spot in the Test squad.

There hasn't been a whole lot of chat about Test call-ups for Rudi Second or Eddie Moore, but the franchise stalwarts could apply pressure on the capped players.  Enough runs in India could get them onto selectors radar.

Young quick Lutho Sipamla will have his readiness for the longer format tested after making his T20I debut against Pakistan earlier this year.

The A tour should establish a clear line progression for the Proteas, but management will need to set the pace for that process.

There will be players in the Test squad not drawn from the A group, but the core group are at very different places in their careers.

As skipper Du Plessis' place is guaranteed but even if he did not captain the side, he has been one of the most consistent performers with the bat. There is no question about the place of Quinton de Kock, his position in the batting order is still up for debate though.

Markram and Dean Elgar's partnership at the top of the order shows great promise and is unlikely to be disrupted. Markram is on the A tour to give him further exposure to the conditions and test his leadership qualities.

An in-form Hashim Amla would go a long way towards giving the Proteas a shot at taking some valuable World Test Championship points away from India. Unfortunately and in-form Amla is a rare sight of late. Questions remain about his continued involvement in the Proteas Test XI.

Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have hopefully been allowed to put their feet up for a spell before they begin working out how to contribute with the ball in India.

The World Test Championship has added a bit of spice to bilateral cricket by removing dead rubbers. Points will be up for grabs in all three Tests in India. The key for the Proteas will be to find ways to put pressure on India.

If things go exceptionally well for the Proteas they may take something from the series in India.

Virat Kohli will aim to whitewash the Proteas. India's goal in the series will be utter domination. The Proteas need to show plenty of heart and fire.

Written by James Richardson for Hollywoodbets. 

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