Cape Town — South Africa 'A' coach Malibongwe Maketa says big first-innings runs and a strong drive to improve by those members of the Proteas Test squad are two key boxes the side wants to tick heading into the second and final Test against India 'A' starting in Mysore on Tuesday.
The tourists were poor in the opening match at Trivandrum where they went down by seven wickets last Thursday. The result came on the back of a 4-1 series loss in the five-match one-day sequence, although all those games were rain affected at the same venue in Kerala.
The big disappointment from the game was the batting where they managed to post poor scores of 164 and 186. This despite fielding a team that boasted six players that will play for the senior national team in a three-match Test series against India next month.
"It was disappointing with the first Test," Maketa reflected.
"It's unfortunate with the quality of the players that we had, we definitely expected different results to what we got.
"We're not making any excuses for them, it was difficult with all the rain around for them to come in from South Africa without a game, so the rustiness of not playing did show.
"I do hope that the cobwebs are out now going into the second Test. We all know what they can do, it's now about execution."
Maketa added that the senior players in the squad were especially unhappy with the way they batted. Batsmen Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, Senuran Muthusamy and Heinrich Klaasen were some of those that played in the game.
"The Test players are very disappointed in themselves and I'm a little disappointed as well," Maketa explained.
"They're all are determined to set the record straight by ensuring they walk away from this series not just with a positive result in the next game, but also with runs and wickets under the belt going into that first Test against India's main side next month."
Despite the gloom from that first game, though, Maketa says there are positives. He pointed to the bowling of teenager Marco Jansen, who took two wickets and hit an unbeaten 45, and Lungi Ngidi - the paceman nabbing five wickets. He also praised Klaasen for his fighting second-innings 48.
"There were some positives, for instance Marco really played well. Klaasen also showed some glimpses. You could see the guys that have been playing in the one-day series, that they were a bit ahead of those that just arrived," the coach continued.
"In saying that, the improvement Lungi Ngidi showed from the first innings to the second innings was really massive.
"The whole bowling unit showed great improvement, they just needed more runs to defend to effect a better result, so no doubt there were positives and we'll look to build on those this week."
Looking ahead to the Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadeyar Ground, Maketa added: "It's obvious going into the second Test that we want to make sure we bat big, especially in the first innings. To ensure we effect a result we have to do that.
"That will give our strong bowling line-up a lot of runs to play with. It's the only way to put pressure on them so that they're behind the eight-ball all the time. That's the big goal we are trying for."
SA 'A' four-day squad:
Aiden Markram (Titans, captain), Theunis de Bruyn (Titans), Zubayr Hamza (Cape Cobras), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), George Linde (Cape Cobras), Pieter Malan (Cape Cobras), Eddie Moore (Warriors), Senuran Muthusamy (Dolphins), Marco Jansen (Knights), Dane Piedt (Cape Cobras), Wiaan Mulder (Lions), Heinrich Klaasen (Titans), Lutho Sipamla (Warriors), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins).
- Cricket South Africa