The 22 year-old is establishing himself as Dean Elgar’s partner at the top of the Proteas’ batting card, and there will be no better place for him to prove himself against elite opposition than his home ground. It is a pitch familiar to him, and those small comforts are crucial at the top end of the game.
“It is a great Test venue,” he said of the fast-paced Pretoria venue.
“The crowd pulls in and a lot of people come to watch and they get behind the side. In terms of the cricket, it is a wicket where if you set it up as a batter there are runs up for rabs, but as a bowler, with the pace and bounce, you are always in with a shout. It is going to be an exciting Test match, one I’m really looking forward to.”
In preparation for the pivotal second Test, Markram has already had a taste of the intensity he can expect out in the middle. With Dale Steyn out injured, he and Elgar were the recipients of a barrage from Chris Morris and Lungi Ngidi, the two tearaways who look to be vying to fill the void left by the veteran speedster.
Morris and Ngidi didn’t hold back, peppering the opening pair; ideal preparation for a similar examination that awaits from an impressive Indian attack. Markram explained that he had taken some lessons from his two knocks at a frenetic first Test at Newlands.
“I have to adapt to certain pitches, but I didn’t want to lose the intensity with which I bat,” he said of his approach in Cape Town, adding that every game plan is tweaked ccording the conditions that confront them.
“It is something that I keep close to me and gauge often. When I’m batting at the right intensity, I move better and my positions are stronger. That is something that I challenge myself with and it starts in training. Luckily we have a great attack to face and it’s never easy so to keep challenging my intensity levels is something I keep working on.”
It is common knowledge that batting in South Africa, against the swinging new ball, is one of the sternest challenges in the Test arena, and Markram is well aware of the ifficulties that come with being an international opener.
“You have to make sacrifices for the team. You will do anything (for the team) and these conditions are some of the things you have to battle through. By no means are we going to accept the fact that batsmen can’t score runs,” he maintained.
“I still believe that batters can get stuck in and score runs. It’s not going to be easy, it will still be a challenge, but I think if you apply yourself and play for long periods within your own game plans that suit you as a player, there are runs up for grabs,” he explained.
Runs are what South Africa will be looking for, as they seek to seal a series triumph against the number one side in Test cricket. Centurion has been a great venue for the Proteas, with just two defeats in 22 Tests in Pretoria.
They will be looking to build on that formidable record against an Indian side that is expected to bounce back, after a ferocious tussle in Cape Town. Things tend to happen in a hurry at Centurion, which bodes for another memorable battle.
The second Test between South Africa and India starts on Saturday, 13 January, with play starting at 10:30am.