India is at the best of times a daunting place for any touring team.
With that in mind, some Proteas supporters might be extra jittery given that the team’s best batsman, Faf du Plessis, won’t be present for the T20 series that begins in Dharamshala on Sunday.
Yet, with the optimism of a rookie, interim team director Enoch Nkwe is confident South Africa can more than comfortably cope with his absence.
Proteas T20 squad: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen (vc), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi,George Linde.
“I strongly believe that we have a good enough squad. We have a good leader here with me (Quinton de Kock),” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s also an opportunity to build for the future. We know where Faf stands as our captain and as player. He’s done great things for South African cricket. We also need to look at what the future could hold for us. We believe in Quinton’s leadership.”
Indeed, there is a reasonably distant World T20 in Australia next year to keep in mind, but the transitional period the Proteas find themselves in in terms of coaching staff and squad make-up makes it understandable that Nkwe isn’t necessarily expecting to gain immediate insights into what that group may look like in 2020.
“This series is obviously the start of a new chapter,” he said.
“The focus really is just on this battle with India. We’re looking to invest in building a good foundation. We still have lot of T20 games to play before that tournament, I think it’s about 20.
“It’s really just about playing this series and assessing the situation after that, to see where we’re at and how we can adapt further.”
The Proteas’ squad for the short form section of the tour, which also features three Tests, is indeed dominated by so-called next generation players in Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phelukwayo.
In fact, only De Kock, David Miller and Kagiso Rabada can arguably be considered truly established international players.
It perhaps also explains why De Kock is fairly diplomatic about what South Africa’s objectives should be against a powerhouse home nation.
“We come into the series with quite a few new players,” said the dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman.
“I just want the guys to make sure that keep on competing and keep fighting. As long as they do that, we’ll be fine.
“There’ll be a lot of energy among the players. That’s always a good thing and something to look forward to.”