Terming the Indian pitches in the ongoing Test series as the toughest he has faced in his career, South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis has said that the senior players in the visiting side need to support their younger team-mates and keep them motivated.
Some of the younger players have come under criticism for the way they have handled the conditions in India during the Test series which the home side have already clinched 2-0 with the third match beginning here on December 3.
"I'm a senior player and I'm finding it tough because the conditions dictate the way you play and your performances. It's important for us to try and keep the younger players positive, and we've done that," du Plessis said.
Like his captain Hashim Amla, du Plessis called the Indian surfaces the most difficult he has faced and cautioned against using them as a benchmark to assess their performances. "These have been the toughest conditions that I have played under, it's also been a challenge for the young guys coming in," he said.
"It's a hard task for them because they get judged by playing Test cricket in these conditions where you have found that even our experienced players have found it tough. We have to keep motivating them and to keep the spirits high," du Plessis was quoted as saying in ESPNCricinfo.
Not only the younger lot in the touring South African team, even du Plessis himself has never played Tests in India before and he said he looked at this outing as an education. "The good thing about it is you can learn from this and improve your game. Even I have learnt a lot about my game in the last few matches. I've concentrated on my defence against spin in the first 20 balls I face," he said.
"In South Africa, Australia and New Zealand you can take your time, even if you aren't getting bad balls but the surface here doesn't allow that to happen. This is a huge learning curve for us and also something we can take forward."
Du Plessis' intent was evident in the second innings in the Nagpur Test when, along with Amla, he ground out the highest partnership of the match and threatened to stage a rearguard action that could have put India under pressure. None of South Africa's other batsmen have shown that sort of application yet.