Nagpur:South African coach Corrie van Zyl on Wednesday said a bigger challenge lies for his side in the second Test in Kolkata as he expects a turning pitch at the Eden Gardens to suit the home team after their humiliating defeat in the first match here.
"I won't say (I expect) a minefield. We will see what it looks like when we get there, but I expect something that's going to help the Indian team obviously. I think it will help the Indian spinners, but I need to go to Kolkata and see," van Zyl told reporters at the VCA stadium in Jamtha.
"We need to be well prepared for second Test. If the first Test was a challenge the second Test is going to be an even bigger challenge. Mentally this South African team is better prepared, that's the most important part. But it's still going to be a challenge dealing with the turning wickets and whatever the wicket is," he added.
Asked if he expects a square turner like the one in Kanpur in 2008 after South Africa had defeated India by an innings in the previous Test in Ahmedabad, van Zyl said he would prefer a pitch that would provide a good contest between the two teams.
"I would hope so (spin-friendly). I was not part of that tour. I hope it will still be a good cricket contest, a wicket where we can play good cricket, both sides," he said.
He said that there was no change in his team's strategy even when they knew the hosts were weakened by the absence of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh.
"We did not change our strategy or preparation. If you start thinking that way then you are almost going to be complacent. Your need is to take 20 wickets. If you think one person is a lesser batsman than the other person that's when you start making mistakes," van Zyl reasoned.
Praising his pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who picked up 10 wickets in the game, van Zyl said the fast bowler showed in the match what a special bowler he was.
"Dale is an excellent bowler. He's number one at the moment and he's there for obvious reasons. To run and bowl at that pace and swing the ball out, I think, is a special gift. And then he showed in this Test how to use the reverse swing as well," he gushed.
The Protea coach also lavished praise on left-arm spinner Paul Harris for his performance during India's second innings here.
"Harbhajan and (Amit) Mishra are spinners that turn the ball more and are attacking spinners. The roles are different within the bowling attack and it's a question of knowing what the roles are," van Zyl said.
"He (Harris) was really effective. Just the fact he bowled so many overs and the economy rate he had showed, he was very effective. I thought he did that really well. We needed him in this bowling attack. Needed those 40 overs from him on this pitch having enforced the follow on," he said.
On man-of-the-match Hashim Amla, who scored an unbeaten 253 to help the visitors pile up a huge 558 runs in the first innings, van Zyl said the Asian-origin batsman had not changed his technique much over the years.
"Obviously (I) have not studied Hashim as much as Graham Ford or Mickey would have done in the past, being on the outside. One of his biggest strengths is his calmness at the crease. He is 6-foot 2 and we needed that calmness at the crease and that was exactly what we got.
"I have not seen a lot of change in his technique. I think his back-lift is the same as it was. There are always all sorts of small things you can look at like balance and do work on them," he said.
The former fast bowler said it was not for him to comment whether the home team, with their number one ranking at stake after the humiliating loss here, needed to take a gamble in the second Test.
"It's their concern. We need to look at what we have to do. We will look at the Indian team and see how they are going to approach this Test match in terms of selection," he said.
Asked how difficult it was for him to get into the groove after being appointed as interim coach of the side just prior to the team's departure, van Zyl said his job was made easier by his earlier stint as an assistant coach.
"My main concern was not the sudden change in the senior team management as I knew most of the players and management well but rather to adapt to Indian conditions in the limited amount of time we had to do so," he said.