South Africa head coach Mark Boucher said getting 30 to 40 runs in the first hour of day four in the series-deciding Test against India was exactly the start his side needed to win the match and series.
Keegan Petersen’s 82 and unbeaten 57-run partnership between Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen helped South Africa script a come-from-behind 2-1 series win.
“Getting 30-40 runs in the first hour was exactly what we needed. I liked the intensity guys batted and capitalising on loose opportunities. We saw this in the second Test as well as here that when you start getting 250-260 runs required, it becomes difficult as a bowling unit to slow the game down. So that really went according to the plan today. It was a tense day but a day the guys will remember that’s how to win in tough situations, not in just this Test match but last Test match as well,” said Boucher in the post-match press conference.
“When you are in the batting change room, the runs feel miles away and when you are in the fielding or bowling change room, then you always feel that runs are never quite enough, so just trying to find a bit of a balance.
“We knew that the conditions are going to be really tough today, as it was extremely hot outside. The mount they bowled in the first innings, played the sport as well. So, getting through the first hour with the run scale was very important for us. It just set up the change room,” added Boucher.
Boucher further appreciated the character and resolve shown by his team apart from captain Dean Elgar and vice-captain Temba Bavuma in bouncing back after a 113-run loss at Centurion and winning the series against a top-ranked Indian team.
“It’s been great. It doesn’t surprise me, because you’ve got Dean as well who is that sort of character and he led from the front. You’ve got Temba as the vice-captain who is the same fighter with that spirit in him, so you’ve got two leaders like that who the guys are going to follow. The guys and both of them stood up with regards to their own games as well.”
“A lot of people, including the media, had written us off after day one of the Test series. To come back after losing the first day badly to then compete in the first Test, and then to win the second and now the third Test, this Indian team is probably the best team in world cricket Test-wise at the moment. They’ve gone over to England, beat England, beat Australia in Australia.”
“So, this is something that our boys certainly won’t take for granted. There are a couple of youngsters who have come through nicely and will take confidence from getting the team into good positions and winning the games which were hard-hard Test cricket.”
Boucher signed off by saying that it was a nervous feeling for him as a coach to see the deciding day of the series.
“It was quite a nervous day for the changeroom. As a coach, you actually have your hands tied behind your back and you can’t go out there and change the game at all, but from a nerves’ perspective, it was one of my more nervous Test days. The whole Test series was hard-fought, good cricket. It must be up there with one of the best Test series to be played, certainly in South Africa.”