South Africa were 40/3 at the halfway mark and needed 94 more runs to chase down 134 against India at Perth Stadium. After drinks break, Aiden Markram and David Miller executed an excellent change in shift of gears, which helped them get 55 runs in overs 11-15.
In that phase, the duo took 9 and 17 runs respectively from the two overs bowled by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who wasn’t getting any sort of help from the pitch. Though their fielding also let them down at that juncture, taking Ashwin apart was a strategy which Markram, who made 52 alongside Miller’s 59 not out, used in South Africa’s five-wicket win over India.
“Naturally that’s our game would sort of pan out when the seamers are all that difficult to get away. We expected them to take on Keshav (Maharaj). I’m sure they expected us to take on Ashwin as well, just because of the nature of the wicket, because the seamers were so difficult to get away.”
“So it almost got to a stage where we had to target someone because they bowled so well initially in the first ten overs up until the drinks break. It got to the stage where we had to pick someone. It could be anyone on any night. Sometimes you execute, sometimes you don’t,” said Markram in the post-match press conference.
Though Markram was out, Miller did hit in two sixes in Ashwin conceding 13 runs in the 18th over despite Tristan Stubbs falling to the off-spinner, which laid the path for South Africa to complete the chase with two balls to spare.
“But you pick those matchups according to who you’re most comfortable against on the night. You get to different conditions and those matchups would change completely. It was a discussion we had at the drinks break to pick one of the bowlers, commit to that. If it comes off then it might give us a chance,” added Markram.
Markram, coming to bat at number four, had a huge slice of luck at 35 when a juggling Virat Kohli dropped a simple catch at deep mid-wicket in the 12th over. In the next over, as Miller called for a tight single, Markram had another reprieve when captain Rohit Sharma missed an underarm direct hit at stumps on striker’s end.
“A bit of luck. We found it quite tricky. Ball’s nipping around quite a bit, obviously the extra bounce as we expected. When it’s nipping around as well it makes things quite tricky. So sometimes you get the rub of the green, sometimes you don’t. At the end of the day you have to be grateful when you do get a bit of luck in the game,” stated the right-hander.
Markram admitted that the South Africa batters were expecting the short of length balls and extra bounce coming in from India’s bowling attack. In the tenth over, Hardik Pandya bowled a pacy over where he rattled Markram and Miller with hard lengths and extra bounce.
“I think it was expected that the lengths would be sort of short of the good lengths. The extra bounce makes it quite tough. We expected those lengths. I think the ball does get big on you and it can make for batters looking quite silly at times.”
“But you’ve got to almost keep watching the ball as close as you can. I think credit has to go to both bowling attacks today. I think both bowling attacks bowled really well today. It was certainly difficult to score out there. They made life pretty tough for us as South African batting group.”