South African batsman Faf du Plessis celebrates his 100 runs during the first One Day International cricket match between South Africa and India at Kingsmead cricket ground on February 1, 2018 in Durban. Pic/AFP
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis blamed his batsmen's failure to do the most "basic" thing of putting together partnerships for the six-wicket loss to India in the first one-dayer, which ended the Proteas 17-match unbeaten home run. Du Plessis felt the hosts were 60 runs short after electing to bat first on a Durban surface that progressively quickened up.
Du Plessis scored a classy 120 yesterday, his ninth ODI hundred, but did not get support from the other end as Indian wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal strangled South African batsmen in the middle overs. "We didn't bat well. As a batting unit, for the second top score to be 30 or 40 shows that there weren't partnerships. The most basic thing about ODI cricket is two guys getting together and putting some sort of partnership together," Du Plessis said at the post-match press briefing. "I thought the Indian spinners bowled well but still we should have been better today against them," he added. Du Plessis said it was the batsmen's job to give the bowlers a decent enough target to defend. "I certainly think we needed 300.
260 odd wasn't enough on that deck. The last two games we played here, we got more runs and won. We chased 370 here against Australia. "So, I think it's unfair to say to the bowlers that they were poor. I thought purely we didn't have runs. If we had got 60-70 more, it would have been easier for our bowlers," he said. Yadav and his fellow spinner Chahal shared five wickets between them to restrict South Africa to 269 for 8, a target which India overwhelmed with six wickets in hand to take a 1-0 lead in the six-match ODI series. Yadav finished with 3 for 34 in 10 overs and was easily the pick of the Indian bowlers. He bamboozled the South African batsmen with his craft and removed JP Duminy, David Miller and Chris Morris to star in the win.
Du Plessis said the way Yadav and Chahal bowled last night, it shows ODI cricket is slowly tilting in favour of wrist spinners. The Proteas skipper said both the Indian spinners brought in a surprise element for his batsmen, which was difficult to handle in one go. "It shows that in white-ball cricket the game is moving towards wrist-spinners, because they have the ability to pick up wickets and that's what they (Yadav and Chahal) did today," Du Plessis said.
"It's been a bad day at the office for us. So we need to quickly learn from the mistakes. It's a very long series, so it's important that we refocus for the next game," he added. Asked about the surprise element of the two Indian wrist spinners, Du Plessis said the hosts will decode them eventually. "From a batting point of view, quite a few guys haven't faced their spinners, so it will take one or two games for them to get used to it. Some of the guys played against these guys in the IPL but not all of them faced them recently." "With mystery spin or wrist spin, it takes one or two games just to get used to the guys' actions and their wrists, then hopefully you get better at playing them," he said.
Du Plessis' century was the lone bright spot in South Africa's batting display yesterday as Yadav and Chahal picked up wickets in the middle overs to put pressure on the hosts. "India is at their best when they can put pressure on you with their spinners and today they did that and slowed the game down. They got wickets through the middle period. If you can get wickets through the middle period, you will win a lot of one-day games," he said.
Du Plessis' Indian counterpart Virat Kohli (112) also slammed a century, his 33rd ODI hundred, but that came in a winning cause. "He's (Kohli) very good. You know when it comes to chasing he is the main man that you need to get. He is a very good controller of the tempo of the innings...So we know, just as in the Tests, he is the backbone. "If we get him, you put pressure on them. If he is there, they're going to have opportunities of putting pressure on us."
Defending the total, Imran Tahir failed to put any pressure on the Indian batsmen yesterday but Du Plessis backed the leg-spinner to come good in the next match. "If Imran bowls well for us then he's our wicket-taker in the middle. India played him really well. Imran generally doesn't go 2 or 3 games without wickets, so I'll be very surprised if in the next game he doesn't bowl really well," Du Plessis signed off.
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