Proteas captain Dean Elgar is confident that he and his team are more than capable of bouncing back from their first Test loss to draw level against India in the second Test at the Wanderers.
Despite the less than adequate batting display which led the hosts to lose the opening fixture by 113 runs at SuperSport Park in Centurion, their second contest against the top-ranked side in the world on Monday will provide an opportunity for the green and gold to correct the mistakes made in the opener - the first piece of red-ball action the side has seen for over six months.
"We’ve had a few very good conversations since the first Test finished," said Elgar.
"The message that we’ve come out with is we don’t need to panic as a unit.
"I still think we’ve got a lot of capable players within the side, even if some of them are quite inexperienced, but they also have to take the responsibility. One or two poor innings with the bat does not make them bad cricketers and backing them is an extremely important thing going forward in Test cricket - that’s how you build and grow your Test team.
"With the ball, there’s areas to improve on as well, and we know we can get better in the second Test. We just need to break things up, go back to basics and work harder when it comes to execution."
The visitors have never lost at the ‘Bullring’, boasting three draws and two wins in the five visits. The South Africans, though, know that in order to keep a series win alive they will have to deal the Indians their first Wanderers loss.
The pitch, recognised as bowler-friendly, performed characteristically in the first Test, with the Proteas failing to score more than 200 runs in both their innings. Elgar, on the other hand, is anticipating a better surface for his batsmen, as they aim to stand up against the Indian attack.
"I think the surface will play a lot better than it has in recent times," said the skipper.
"They have a new groundsman now in Evan (Flint), and I think he’s been trying to make it more batting friendly or a little bit more of a better cricket wicket that creates better Test cricket.
"Irrespective of how the wicket plays, us as batsmen have to put our hands up. We have to take more ownership and responsibility of the positions we’ve been given - hopefully it works that way.
"We’ve been echoing a lot of positivity within the group, and one or two innings’ doesn’t make a player a bad cricketer. You’re only one knock away from being in form and there’s plenty of positives to take into the second Test."
Play starts at 10:00.
Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, WiaanMulder, Keegan Peterson, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, PrenelanSubrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier.
Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj