INDIA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2018
India completed their first-ever bilateral series victory over South Africa in South Africa © AFP
South Africa may have received “a good hiding” from India in the one-day series, but coach Ottis Gibson believes that they will be stronger for the experience when they travel to England for the World Cup next year. After a brief rally at the Wanderers when they won the fourth ODI, South Africa were soundly beaten once again on Tuesday (February 13) as India completed their first series victory on South African soil.
The tourists now lead the series 4-1 with one match still to be played, and have left South Africa with plenty to reflect on as they plot their way toward the World Cup. While Gibson pointed to injuries at various points in the series as some mitigation for South Africa’s struggles, he said the team were not making excuses and were instead looking at what had been learned.
“It’s been a good lesson and in a year’s time I think it will prove to have been a good lesson to learn right now,” he said. “We’ve got a good hiding from India, let’s not kid ourselves about that, but it’s also given us a lot of food for thought going forward. Twelve months from now we’ll be a lot stronger for having had this experience.”
The fifth ODI at St. George’s Park followed a largely predictable script, with one of India’s top-order batsmen scoring a hundred before South Africa found themselves strangled by spin. This time around it was Rohit Sharma cashing in as he made 115 in an Indian total of 274 for seven, backing up the three centuries scored by Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan over the course of the first four matches.
“A lot of credit has to go to India. In almost every game, one of their top three has scored a hundred. We’ve got one hundred and when you look at the series those are the differences,” said Gibson.
South Africa’s lack of runs in the series has been their chief concern. Despite only playing the first game, Faf du Plessis is the second-highest runscorer in the series for South Africa thanks to the 120 he made in Durban. David Miller, Aiden Markram and JP Duminy have failed to pass that tally in five innings, while Hashim Amla’s 71 on Tuesday only took him up to 144 runs.
Gibson saw further reason to give credit to India. “Hash has got 26 hundreds in one-day cricket so he knows how to do it, but he’s not been allowed to either by the way they have bowled or the lack of confidence in our batting.”
While Miller and Duminy would not appear to have any ready excuses, Gibson said that he felt the additional responsibility of captaining the side had been weighing on Markram. “I don’t know if the whole responsibility around captaining has been too much for him but it seems he is trying to bat in a way that is not the Aiden Markram I saw in September. I’ve spoken to him about that.”
Nevertheless, Gibson stuck by the decision to give Markram the captaincy. “This was a decision for the future, not a decision for now,” he said. “Aiden has shown all the hallmarks of someone who is going to be a good leader and with Faf out we thought we could give him the opportunity. Looking back I think it was the right decision, I’m not going to second-guess myself.”
Meanwhile, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal collected another six wickets to take their tally for the series to 30. South Africa’s battle with spin has been the main narrative of the series, and Gibson admitted that a good deal of video analysis had been done to try and decode the wrist spinners. But while the coach was disappointed by the lack of progress, he was not overly concerned about the issue’s bearing on South Africa’s long-term plans.
“When I came here we spoke about building for the World Cup. In England in June and July, I don’t believe that the ball will spin as much as we’ve seen here. I think India has two world-class spinners and they might spin it anywhere, but we’ve got a whole year to learn to deal with that stuff. But I don’t believe it will spin that much in England next year.”
Although the Proteas have been looking to the future with some of their selections in this series, and plan to do so again when they tour Sri Lanka later this year, Gibson was clear about what he would like to see in the sixth ODI at Centurion on Friday, which will now be a dead rubber.
“A bit more fight,” he said. “We succumbed quite easily tonight, to be bowled out in 42 overs is very disappointing from a batting point of view. Even with the bowling there were some soft boundaries, which has gone on the whole series. So just a bit more fight with the bat. The Indian spinners got six wickets again. In each game they have picked up at least five wickets. I know that they are very good but we are also better than we have shown with the bat. I’d like to see us prove ourselves right in that regard.”