Johannesburg – South African captain Dean Elgar said there was a double significance to the bruises inflicted by India’s fast bowlers during his match-winning 96 not out on the fourth day of the second Test at the Wanderers Stadium.
South Africa won by seven wickets to set up a series decider in the third Test starting at Newlands in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“I’d like to think those blows that I take make me extra motivated to perform,” said Elgar after South Africa chased down a target of 240 on a pitch of unpredictable bounce.
He also believes he sets an example to a group of relatively young and inexperienced teammates.
“I want to show the guys that it’s okay to take a few blows because when you perform like that over four days it’s so worth it.”
Elgar, in his fourth match as full-time captain, also revealed that he is capable of taking a tough line with his players, telling SuperSport television that a key three-wicket burst by senior fast bowler Kagiso Rabada in India’s second innings on Wednesday followed “a rocket” behind closed doors.
Asked to elaborate at his post-match press conference, Elgar downgraded the exchange to “a tough conversation”.
“I went up to KG and said, ‘You are an immensely respected cricketer within our group. At the moment I don’t think you are conducting yourself extremely well when it comes to performance’.”
He said the conversation had the desired effect.
“I know what KG is capable of. His performance on the field and in the change room is huge.”
‘Resilience and determination’
What had been expected to be a tense battle turned into a relatively comfortable win for South Africa, who resumed on 118 for two, still 122 short of victory.
Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen added 57 in the first hour before Van der Dussen was caught at first slip off Mohammed Shami for 40, ending a third-wicket partnership of 82.
Temba Bavuma escaped on nought when Shardul Thakur could not hold a return chance. He then batted solidly to score 23 not out as he and Elgar took their side home with an unbeaten stand of 68.
Elgar missed out on his century but batted doggedly for 188 deliveries and won the match with his 10th boundary.
“You’ve got to give him credit,” said Indian coach Rahul Dravid.
“He really stuck it out there. He’s fought through some difficult times. We’ve beaten the bat quite a few times. He showed a lot of resilience and determination.”
Dravid said the Indian bowlers had been hampered by a wet outfield after play got under way under floodlights after rain delayed the start on Thursday by almost six hours.
“It was always going to be a challenge,” he said.
“We knew we had to do something special to get those eight wickets. We knew the outfield was wet and the ball was going to get wet.”
India’s bowlers were not as threating as expected and did not help their cause when Jasprit Bumrah, Shami and Mohammed Siraj all bowled short-pitched deliveries which flew over the heads of the batsmen and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant for wides which went to the boundary, costing five runs each time.
Siraj, who suffered a hamstring injury on the first day, was again unable to operate at full effectiveness, conceding 23 runs in two overs as South Africa hurried to victory.
“We rely a lot on swing bowling and the ball probably did not swing as much because the ball got a bit wet and the seam got softer,” said Dravid.
“But credit to the South African batsmen. They played really well.”
Dravid said he expected captain Virat Kohli to be fit for the decider after missing the second Test because of a back spasm.
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