The third T20I between India and South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday turned into a thriller in the final few overs with debutant Christiaan Jonker smashing 49 runs in 24 balls including 5 fours and 2 sixes to take South Africa dangerously close to the winning total. Indian seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar held his nerve in the final over and led India to a victory by 7 runs. Speaking to reporters after the match, South African coach Ottis Gibson said that there have been positive signs throughout the tour inspite of disappointments in the shorter formats.
“We have seen exciting new players in the one-day series. Lungi [Ngidi] made a debut, Heinrich Klaasen made his debut and he has been excellent. Junior Dala in this T20 series was also very good, and we saw a little bit of Christiaan Jonker. He was very good. Losing is not always very easy, but when you are missing so many of your seniors, and then some new people coming and putting their names forward, the results are too hard to take. You obviously look at future and the future is some of the youngsters seem… like it is going to be bright,” he said.
The former West Indies allrounder further added that India were helped in their endeavour by the experienced players among their ranks “Experience again, experience. India have got (Jasprit) Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, two very experienced players. We’ve got (Chris) Morris and Junior Dala making his debut. The experience they have of playing not just for India but also playing 3 or 4 years of IPL cricket has shown in the end. Junior held his own very well. Chris Morris has got a lot of work to do,” he said.
The coach further added that Morris, who failed to impress in the limited overs format, has to learn how to be a match-winner. “I would imagine, Morris would go back to play some domestic cricket. IPL, whenever it starts, I am not sure when it starts. But before that he has got some domestic cricket to go and get some consistency in his bowling, especially. He is a match-winner. He is short of that. We had a conversation, myself and him. I am not telling you anything that I haven’t told him. So he just needs to find what type of bowler he wants to become and put practice in that and work in to become that person. Because he is a match-winner,” he said.
South Africa squad was hampered with injuries to several key players including AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock. With series against Australia about to start next month, the coach pointed out that the return of senior players will make them a stronger unit.
“Seniors in any team makes it stronger. Especially, the seniors we have coming back in the team, have been a massive loss without them being there. We all thought that AB’s body is better than what it was in ODIs. I hope he is somewhere near 100 per cent and he can take his place in the team. Even Dale Steyn is not far away again. So, we missed the seniors in this series. No doubt about that. So having them back and having them will give everybody a lift,” Gibson said.
“I am a big fan of strong domestic league or tournament which will produce better players for international cricket. And if you have international cricketers not performing, then I’d think domestic cricket would be the place to go back and raise the standard of domestic cricket so that it becomes a little bit better. Those guys who haven’t performed in this series, have done well in the past. They have been big players in the past and people can always be out of form, that is part of the sport. It is how you bounce back and the attitude that you have towards preparation that will help you to get back where you want to be and where you belong in terms of your form, so it is just about those guys being very clear in their minds of what exactly they want to do and I will help them along the way.
“India performed well and should be credited with that. The gulf between domestic cricket and international cricket is still quite a wide one,” he added.
India won the T20I series 2-1 after demolishing South Africa in the ODI series by 5-1.
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