'There is not much we can do as players, but there is that disparity in the number of games. We have to find a way mentally to meet the challenge.'
Batsman Temba Bavuma says South Africa's lack of red ball cricket this year has been a big disadvantage and a key factor in their disappointing performance so far in the first Test against India at Centurion Park.
The tourists lead by 146 runs with nine second innings wickets remaining on a spicy pitch. They went to the close at 16 for one after dismissing the home side for 197 late in the day.
South Africa had played five Tests before this one in 2021, and none since June when they won away in the West Indies. This is India's 15th Test this year, and they are coming off a home series against New Zealand that finished earlier this month.
"I don't want to be accused of making excuses for our play, but that does have an impact," Bavuma said after he top-scored in South Africa's first innings with 52.
"If you look at the way we played on the first day. I don't believe that is the standard and the intensity that we can play at. And one of the factors is the lack of match practice. You can have as many nets as you want, but nothing simulates going out in the middle.
"There is not much we can do as players, but there is that disparity in the number of games. We have to find a way mentally to meet the challenge."
South Africa will hope to limit India to a manageable target, or at worst take time out of the game with some rain predicted for day five on Thursday.
Either way, they will have to find a way to counter the Indian seamers, especially Mohammed Shami, who appeared unplayable at times on Tuesday as he recorded figures of 5-44.
"He is a world-class bowler, so I don't think it is something we did not expect," Bavuma said. "As batters we have to front up and back our defence as much as we can. But if he bowls a good ball, kudos to him."