South Africa’s coach Russell Domingo admitted that his team has fallen apart whenever the Indians have applied the pressure on them during the ongoing Test series.
It was yet another pathetic batting show by the South Africans as they were bowled out for 121 in 49.3 overs in reply to India’s first innings score of 334.
“Once we’ve been put under pressure, we’ve fell away badly, and they haven’t. Their lower order and their middle order have fought back, and have managed to give them good scores, and we haven’t been able to do that. We didn’t bat very well this afternoon and we have a lot of thinking to do. It just wasn’t good enough as a performance,” Domingo was critical of his team’s show in the four-Test series.
“It may have started late on Thursday when we had them 139 or six. At 139 for six, you are very much in the game. They had some strong partnerships at the back end. We missed a few chances, and a few decisions didn’t go our way. So it wasn’t a very good last 40-50 overs with the ball. And not a good 45 overs with the bat on Day 2.
“There’s no dead rubber when you play international cricket, and the players were all keen to play good cricket, which we haven’t done in the last few weeks. It has been a long tour, but that is no excuse. There is a lot of pride in that change-room, and a lot of hurt players after the performance that we put up,” a dejected Domingo said.
The coach said that some of the soft dismissals did hurt them.
“There were a few dismissals that could be deemed as a bit soft, but a good few were from very good bowling, if you think of Dane Vilas dismissals and Temba Bavuma. So it is a bit of both, and we have to give credit to India’s spinners because they have bowled well throughout the series, but we also have to take responsibility for some very soft dismissals.”
Well aware that only a miracle can save them from defeat now, Domingo put up a brave front.
“You’ve got to keep believing. Cricket is a strange game, though you may be foolish for putting money on South Africa to win this game, if we can do something special with the ball, bowl them out for 120, and chase 320, then we are in the game. We know we are a long way behind, but we are optimistic, because cricket is a funny game.”
Domingo was full of praise for Rahane’s century.
“Rahane showed, if you batted with good technique, you got runs. I wouldn’t say disappointed to get out to fast bowlers. I though Ishant and Umesh bowled a really good spell of reverse-swing. Whether you are a fast bowler or a spinner, if you bowled well, you were able to get wickets.”
Domingo seemingly did not have any complaints about the Kotla track.
“It’s the type of wicket we expected in India. It’s got a bit of turn and you get the odd one that bounces. The odd one went over the top but it is the type of wicket we expected in India.”
However, he did not agree that it is South Africa that is facing the batting woes.
“It’s a tough place. You could have asked India’s batting the same question, because their batting has also been average until Rahane’s hundred. They were 139 for 6 and we were 110 for 8. So there is not that much difference, except one guy has gone on and made a hundred.
“I think both sides have got some questions about their batting, but they have managed to bat better at the back end of the innings, in pressure situations, than us.”
He defended wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, who had a torrid time with the bat.
“I think it’s totally different formats. Dane Vilas has been a very good performer in franchise cricket at home. To single out one player’s batting when no one else has made runs, would be very harsh. I would hate to put judgement on one player, considering that no one has made runs for us in this series,” Domingo said.
“It’s a tough one as it has been a long tour. The talk leading into this match from our team was all very good. It was about how important every test is, playing for SA. We know we have to play as well as we can, we need to finish the series well. Whether it was subconsciously one foot on the plane, can’t comment on that, thought our preparation was as good as it has been for every other Test match.
“We’ve just been outplayed here over two days, that’s the bottom line, sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition. One guy made a good hundred, No 9 had a lucky escape, got a good 50, put on a good partnership, and then we sort of capitulated against this good bowling attack. That’s the bottom line,” he added.
The 41-year-old admitted that Indian bowlers put relentless pressure on them.
“Indian bowlers have continuously kept us under pressure. We haven’t had any good partnerships, or any good starts. Every time something did look like it may develop, someone found a way to get out, or someone bowled a great delivery.
“So not through a lack of trying, or lack of effort, or lack of commitment, it just hasn’t worked for us in this Test series. You think of so many things that you can put your finger on, and things just haven’t gone for us. And you need to make own luck, and credit to India, things have gone for them because they have played the better cricket. We have been sub-par, and things haven’t gone for us.”