The national team's captaincy came his way quite early and in an unusual manner but Aiden Markram looks all prepared to deal with the "good pressure" by taking along the seniors in the side. In a surprising move, the 23-year-old two-match old batsman was named the captain for the remaining five ODIs against India owing to Faf du Plessis withdrawal due to a finger injury.
"It's a big honour. The selectors showing confidence in me to take over, it means quite a bit. It's a super humbling experience, but yes, we're going to need to do this for Faf, I believe," said Markram on the eve of second ODI.
"I think it's something that you can't take for granted. I really enjoy captaining but it's an unexpected thing. Like I said it was a freak incident with Faf and this has all just happened so quickly," he said.
"I managed to sleep, yeah," he added, laughing.
"It's going to be an additional pressure to deal with but I believe it's a good pressure. You get good and bad sort of pressures and for me its really a pressure that hopefully, I can thrive on."
The pitch at SuperSport Park looks an ODI batting beauty and the spinners will come into play again. Markram said that he might look to make some changes.
"Generally it's a good wicket at the SuperSport Park. We're going to look more in depth at it this afternoon and then tomorrow morning and then make a decision. The decision will be made completely on what will benefit our side, and not on how India play."
"I believe there are quality batsmen in our middle order and it's just about taking responsibility. Obviously, we've had to adjust our gameplans just a touch going into this game, but it wasn't addressing any sort of problem, I don't think, he added, about facing the Indian wrist-spinners.
Talking about possible batting changes, the skipper said, "Hashim Amla has been so good at the top of the order for us. He just provides that calmness and hits good cricket shots when the field is up, so he's a massive asset up at the top for us. I don't think there is any need to adjust the batting line-up per say. I just think players need to develop some nice and strong game plans.
"I think it would make sense for myself to go up to three. I've spent most of my career opening the batting. From No.3 we're not 100 percent sure of the side just yet. That selection meeting still needs to take place.
"But yeah, it would make sense for me to go up to No.3. From there onwards, there's plenty of experience in JP Duminy and David Miller. So well organize and go according to how the game dictates tomorrow, he added.
Du Plessis had ruled out the possibility of South Africa fielding two spinners (Tabraiz Shamsi with Imran Tahir). When asked about his thoughts on the issue, Markram replied, "Even if we watch how Shamsi has been operating in training today and his form coming into the ODI series, has been top drawer. And he really is putting his hand up for selection. Its a temptation of course, especially watching how their bowlers have bowled. But like you said, its different conditions in Durban to what it is in the Highveld. Its something to talk about for sure.
The key for the young captain will be handling the pressure of a mighty opponent in India, as well as managing former captains and senior players on the field.
Markram said that he had taken enough tips from du Plessis and will be looking up to Amla for further support. "Faf's sort of taken me under his wings since I've been involved in the environment. I'll keep sending messages on and off the field, asking for advice, asking for any hints. But at the end of the day, it's going to be my decision to make on the field though.
"Fortunately, there's plenty of experience within the squad and it won't be a decision made just by myself. I'll definitely consult the senior players, obviously for the better interest of the side as well, said Markram.
"Yes, it can be an intimidating thing (handling seniors). But the culture in the team is so good it allows for a young player like myself to go and engage with a guy like Hashim, whos a legend of the game. It makes it a lot easier for me, it's not something I see as intimidating.
(With PTI Inputs)