They might have registered a 2-0 win over India in the T20I series but South African coach Russell Domingo has warned his team to guard against overconfidence and asked them to focus all their energy on the first ODI starting in Kanpur on Sunday.
“We shouldn’t get too cocky and confident on what has happened as we know India are a very quality side. As far as I’m concerned, India are pretty good in all three formats,” Domingo said after winning the Paytm Twenty20 Trophy.
Having clinched the T20I series 2-0 with wins in Dharamsala, Cuttack and rain abandonment in Kolkata on Thursday, South Africa will now be up for a five-ODI challenge.
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Stressing on the ground realities, Domingo said: “We are very pleased with the results so far but we have only played two days of cricket and there’s 25 days left.
“We have to focus all our energy on Kanpur. We have to approach one game at a time and not look too far ahead.”
The South African cricket team attracted much media attention after their dominating performance in the T20I series and Domingo said keeping their focus away from the ‘media noise’ is a big task for his side.
“I’m not talking about the crowd noise alone but even the media noise… Lots of media, lots of questions! Keeping our focus and dealing with all this noise is the main goal,” he said.
“Obviously the conditions … We know the ball is going to spin a lot, the crowd support is immense, the passion for the game, the constant scrutiny from the media and public. I put on the TV and the only thing I’m watching is the highlights of the game and constant analysis,” he said about the challenges of touring India.
One bowler to bother the South Africans is Ravichandran Ashwin, who dismissed the visitors’ most dangerous batsman AB de Villiers five times in T20Is, the most by any bowler.
The offspinner claimed AB’s wicket for the second time in Cuttack en route to becoming the highest wicket-taker for India in the format.
Asked about Ashwin, Domingo said: “I wouldn’t say he (AB) is having a problem with Ashwin. Ashwin has got him out twice but that’s part of the game. I think he has played him well. I don’t think AB has a problem with Ashwin. He got 50 off 34 balls in the first game and 19 in the second.”
The coach also heaped praise on promising South African pacer Kagiso Rabada who troubled Indian batsmen with his raw pace and finished with 1/18 in Cuttack.
“He has been phenomenal. He’s a very mature cricketer for a 20-year-old. We are very pleased with his performance. We know the workload on fast bowlers can be challenging.”
Domingo said their ace pacer Dale Steyn would have to mentor Rabada who has not looked back after his highest wicket taking performance in their U-19 World Cup triumph last year.
Rabada got into prominence with a record 14 wickets for Lions in their 10-wicket win over Dolphins in a first class match earlier this year and then claimed a 6/16 on ODI debut in Bangladesh.
“Managing him and playing him at the right time will be very crucial for us. It’s very important. Dale is an iconic bowler. Dale played with Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald who were big mentors for him. Same with Morne. Dale will have to do the same,” Domingo said of Rabada who is part of all the three formats in this tour to India.