South Africa captain Dean Elgar said he is incredibly proud of the team’s Test series victory over World No. 1 India but maintained that the Proteas are by no means are a finished article. Elgar’s men fought back from 0-1 down to beat Virat Kohli’s side in the last two Tests of the 3-match series to win the Freedom Trophy, showcasing their steely resolve yet again.
India arrived in South Africa as favourites against a team in transition and Virat Kohli’s men lived up to the reputation by winning the Test series opener, becoming the first Asian side to win a Test in Centurion. However, South Africa did not throw in the towel as they fought back, winning in Johannesburg and stopping the Indian overseas juggernaut in Cape Town.
Not many gave South Africa chances to come back into the series after the hammering in Centurion, considering the way Quinton de Kock retired after the first Test. Questions were asked of South Africa batting quality in a team that is in transition after the likes of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis stepped away from the longest format of the game.
However, Dean Elgar led from the front and got the backing of inexperienced batters like Rassie van der Dussen and Keegan Petersen while the likes of Temba Bavuma and the pace-bowling unit stepped up. Kagiso Rabada, who looked ordinary in the first Test, led from the front in Johannesburg and was ably supported by Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen.
“If you want to compete in Test cricket and be no.1 someday, you have to beat the best in the world. I’m really happy that things went well for us. Could easily have gone wrong and I’d have had egg on my face,” Elgar said after lifting the Freedom Trophy in Newlands on Saturday.
“As I said earlier, really proud of this group. We’re by no means a finished article, I can tell you that. I’m already thinking of the next series. There are some negatives also that we need to work on,” he added.
South Africa hit India at their weak spot as the visitors’ middle-order crumbled in the 2nd and the 3rd Test. On the other hand, Elgar’s men stepped up with the bat in both the Tests, chasing 200-plus targets while batting last in tricky batting conditions.
I LAID A FEW CHALLENGES: ELGAR ON TURNAROUND
Elgar said he had to fire up his teammates after the defeat in Centurion and he is only happy that the players responded positively to his words.
“Challenging your players, you need characters within the group and the bowling unit has been excellent all series. I had put up a challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly. Helps to have a group that doesn’t have any real big names, they like to rally together and play as one. And that’s crucial. Extremely proud of this group of players that we have here.
“Ultimately, if you want to operate at our performance levels, you need tough chats and I’m a bit of old-school mentality with a new-school twist. I laid a few challenges, even to some of the senior players as well. It was great to see the guys take my message on board.
“It’s great to see the guys buying into you from a captain’s point of view. I think us as a closed group, has helped us to feed off each other. We’ve played as a unit and we’ve grown massively as a group in the last two Tests,” Elgar added.
India’s dream run on the road that began in Australia in 2020-21 and extended to England in 2021 came to a crushing halt as the Asian giants missed out on an opportunity to conquer South Africa, which is labeled their final frontier.