India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey praised wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten hundred in the second innings, saying it got the team back into the match.
Pant’s unbeaten hundred helped India set a 212-run target for South Africa after the tourists’ were bowled out for 198 in the second innings.
“It was a fabulous innings and got us really back into the game. From a personal perspective, there is generally pressure on him. Obviously, in a couple of innings, he didn’t get runs but getting runs at a crucial stage for the team, that’s really important. He has set the game nicely for us. Really, really happy with the way he played and showed lot of character as it wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on,” said Mhambrey in the post-day virtual press conference.
Mhambrey also hailed Pant’s partnership of 94 with captain Virat Kohli and then batting alongside the tailenders. “At that stage, you wanted a partnership ideally and you had someone like Virat at the other end. You wanted to stitch a nice partnership which was going on and at that stage, sometimes as a batsman you have to take a backseat as well and assess the conditions and say what is the right thing at that stage in a way to bat in terms of going ahead for the game.”
“In that sense, he batted really well and wanted to stitch a partnership. Once we lost Virat, he had to take the leading role, which he did and stitched another partnership with the tail-enders as well. He batted really sensibly and given us a great opportunity to win a Test from here.”
Mhambrey refused to delve much into India’s anger over an lbw decision on Dean Elgar. Ravichandran Ashwin had Elgar trapped lbw but the South Africa skipper reviewed and ball-tracking showed that the ball would go over the stumps, surprising the Indian team with some reactions heard on stump mic. “We saw it. You saw it. I think I will leave that to the match referee to have a look at it. There is nothing else I can do and comment on. We have seen it all, just want to move on with the game.”
“Every individual out here is trying his best. Sometimes, in moments like this, people do say certain things but there’s nothing that I feel. It’s a game and it will be fair if we move on and take it further. It just happens as everyone is trying their best. Emotions do come in play sometimes. Let’s sit back and how we can go about tomorrow.”
The 49-year-old felt India’s bowling plan on day four will be to bowl in right areas and pick wickets as the pitch still has something to offer for the pacers. “It’s not an easy wicket. I think there is some little awkward bounce on a patch kind of which has been created. But it’s not going to be an easy wicket and even today in the later stages, couple of balls did kick up, hit the gloves, chest and so, it will not be an easy wicket to bat on tomorrow morning as well. For us, it will be very simple: keep it in right areas and be patient about it.”
Mhambrey signed off by saying that picking Elgar’s wicket on the stroke of stumps was crucial for India in pressing for a win. “It was important that we picked up a wicket, I think of Dean. They did score well. At one stage, I thought it was getting tight. But thankfully, we finished the day with a wicket and that’s what we wanted. At times, you want that kind of breakthrough.”