South Africa captain Dean Elgar pointed out that the build-up period to the second Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg was a turning point for his team in the series against India. After losing the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion by 113 runs, South Africa were also rocked by the abrupt retirement of Quinton de Kock from the format.
In Johannesburg for the second Test, Elgar had made a rock-solid, unbeaten 96 in a record-breaking chase of 240 to square the series. South Africa were also helped by Kagiso Rabada’s three-wicket burst which didn’t allow India to post a big total in second innings. Also, on day one, South Africa had bowled out India for 202 after losing the toss.
“I think there were a few turning points. Building up to the second Test was a turning point we had. Not even from a cricketing point of view, the conversations we had in the group and the tough chat for maybe an hour. Just the learnings out of that helped us to almost get the appreciation back-to-back within wearing the badge, which I have on my head right now,” said Elgar in the virtual press conference while replying to a question from IANS.
“On-field, there were a lot of turning points. KG’s (Rabada) spell that he bowled at the Wanderers, the three wickets he got within not a lot of overs. You turn the intensity up on the Indian players as you could almost feel in a sense that this is a period where we can really strike and get the momentum back on our side. Chasing 240-plus at the Wanderers was a massive confidence booster for our side. It was another phase that we could reflect on and use to our advantage.”
The seven-wicket win in Johannesburg gave South Africa the impetus to win the series decider at Cape Town on Friday.
“In this Test match, we never went lying down. We always fought, which is a great characteristic to have. We never lied down to the Indians, always played within our game plan which is a good strength of us to have. We never veered off things and guys didn’t go to their personal bubbles, which can sometimes happen,” insisted Elgar.
“That was my job to make sure that the guys didn’t go into their personal bubbles. You need 11 guys out there to be on the same page and fighting for the same cause. There (are) a few more things which I will sit down and think a lot more deeper to answer the question a lot more accurately.”
Further talking about the gains from the win in Johannesburg, Elgar felt, grabbing the momentum and gaining confidence stood out for South Africa.
“I think momentum is the word that jumps out. You need momentum on your side when you are playing a Test series. It’s difficult to gain momentum when you don’t have it. Playing against a quality opposition, they are not going to give you much of a sniff.
“So, when you see the sniff, you need to capitalise on that and make the most of it. You work your backside off to ensure that the momentum doesn’t slip. A few times in the series, the momentum did slip. I thought we were well-oiled and professional when it comes to sniffing in those small moments that became big moments and we played those brilliantly.
“Momentum is something we gained from Wanderers. Confidence is just another thing which jumps out when I think of it now. We didn’t have a lot of confidence, especially from the batting point of view. Showing that these guys are beatable in a bloody tough sport, you need that kind of confidence in your set-up. So, I think getting momentum and confidence is something we gained out of Wanderers victory.”