VISAKHAPATNAM: After India lost the first two games, there was a lot of talk about the hosts missing their star players and if the present team was good enough to give the South African team a run for its money. But on Tuesday night, the Indians put in a clinical display to bounce back in the series and the team found an unlikely supporter in rival skipper Temba Bavuma.

The South African dismissed talks about the Indian team being a weak side. “I think that it’s a bit unfair. We won the first two games quite convincingly and lost today. The team which the Indians have is not a weak one. The players have performed well in their domestic tournaments and the IPL. I don’t think they have been given an opportunity just for the sake of it. These are quality players and for us there is no expectancy as we know that we have to play well to win and that’s what we have done in the first two games. Today, they were a much better side and we have to expect it. I don’t think you guys were thinking that we are going to come here and win the series 5-0 just because all the big-name players are not there. This is a good Indian team, in my opinion,” Bavuma said after the match.
Speaking of what went wrong in the game, he said: “The spinners came and put us under pressure in this game. The conditions were good for the slow bowlers and the Indian spinners exploited the conditions. Look, we were unable to get any partnerships going or any momentum today. The bowlers put us under pressure and we didn’t really get going. We batted really well in the series but today was an off day for the batters.”
Would batting first have been a good option? “That’s a good point but we, obviously, are trying to play with what is in front of us at the moment. You know batting second and chasing has been favourable for us as a team. If we get to Australia and if batting first is a favourable option, we might do that. But at the moment, we are trying to play according to the conditions as best as we can and look at what is best for us as a team,” he said.
On the opening combination, the South African skipper said: “A guy like Quinton (de Kock) is a big player for us and plays at the top of the order but unfortunately he is not available as he is injured. We got Reeza (Hendricks) as a back-up option and that’s why he is getting the opportunity. We have full faith in him and are backing him. This is the squad that we have had for the last two years and obviously when the team loses there are many areas where we can point out things.
“Like I said at the start of the innings we are looking to get stability at the top but with Quinton not available we are not able to get it. In terms of my game and my role within the team, the guys understand it. There are a lot of power players around me and I try to keep it tight at the other end – that’s my role. It has been successful for us and that’s not going to change. We intend to keep going with it,” he said.
Will the team have a relook at their batting strategy for the initial few overs? “I don’t think so. That has always been our approach and tactic as a team. The first two overs, we generally have a look at things and then try to get some momentum in the innings and set it up for the big power players. It’s a strategy that has worked well for us over the last few years. I think, for one loss, it will be foolish to change our strategy,” he said.
Bavuma said dew didn’t play much of a role in this game. “If there was dew, it really didn’t affect their spinners and they bowled really well. They brought the spinners early in the innings and that made a big difference. It didn’t look like there was dew but it was humid.”

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