Centurion Could be a Good Batting Wicket, Says…

Centurion: Even before the start of the second Test between India and South Africa at Centurion, a lot is being said about how the pitch here will be similar to that in Newlands. But South Africa opener Aiden Markram feels that the wicket be good for the batsmen, despite it’s pace and bounce. The second Test gets underway from Saturday.

“Generally, it’s a good batting wicket here although I am not sure how they have prepared it this time. But there have been a lot of high scores here. I would like to think it will be a good wicket. I am pretty sure it will be similar to last week (Cape Town), maybe not as extreme,” Markram said.

“It is incredibly exciting to play here because it is a place where I grew up watching and playing cricket. It’s a wicket where if you set yourself up as a batsman there are runs to be had. But as a bowler, with the pace and bounce, you always have a shout as well. It’s going to be an exciting match,” he added.

Markram will only be appearing in fifth Test of his career, and till now has shown all the attributes of a world-class player. “It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster the last couple of years but an enjoyable one. I learnt a lot about my game and myself, which is important. I am fortunate to rub shoulders with legends of the game at a young age, which does help. Most importantly I have kept learning, which is great,” he said.

Having played against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Markram feels that playing against the strong Indian team is a different ball game altogether. “Playing against India is a massive step up (as compared to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). It was a massive step up. There’s a reason why they are the No 1 team in the world – they have quality players in all departments.

"They tick all the boxes and they have come here to compete, which is great. For me as a young guy, it is awesome. Every day you are learning something new, and to be exposed to challenges like that is great. You learn your best lessons at this level. So it was valuable and going into this Test it’s something I’ll be more aware of,” he added.

In the first Test, Markram found the going tough as he could only score 5 and 34 runs in the two innings. “We got an insight into how the pitches are going to be in this series. It’s about forming a game plan according to that.

"We have had a couple of days off now to think about that. That’s the direction we want to go in, to feel that as batters it’s not that we can’t score runs here. And look to score, according to how the wicket is going to play.”

Seeing South African coach’s liking towards pace, youngster Lungi Ngidi might well be included in place of injured Dale Steyn. Also, South Africa has the likes of Kagiso Rabada who recently became no. 1 Test bowler in the world.

“KG (Rabada) has fitted (taken) like a duck to water in international cricket. He’s put his hand up for the side and he almost sees his role as a senior one even though he is so young. He has adopted a great mindset. He is obviously a very competitive guy. He has got a lot of x-factor about him and what’s lovely is he likes to compete with batsmen – he never likes a batsman to get up on him. It’s a great trait for him to have,” said Markram.

Talking about Lungi Ngidi, he said,“I am incredibly happy for Lungi. We have played for quite a few years both with and against each other. I am happy to see him getting a chance and he really does deserve it. He puts in a lot of hard work behind the scenes and he has the perfect mindset for an up-and-coming player. It filters onto the rest of us,” he added.