Ali Bacher reckons the series win against India was one of the gutsiest ever performances by a South African team, considering before the series started, very few would have put their money on the home team winning the series.
Ali Bacher, the former South African captain, saw the first two Test matches at the Centurion and the Wanderers, Johannesburg, and the third at Newlands, Cape Town from his home at Johannesburg.
Ali Bacher: Series Win Against India One Of The Gutsiest Ever Performances By A South African Team
India lost the series 2-1 after winning the opening Test in Centurion. What followed was the stepping down of Virat Kohli as India’s Test captain and several doubts as to what might have led him to do that. Virat Kohli still remains an important part of the Indian team across formats for the next four to five years.
“I have never seen a three-Test series in South Africa when the ball has deviated so much. All three pitches were the batsmen’s nightmare and the fast bowlers’ paradise. I have never seen a more gutsy and determined South African team. They have made the country proud,” said Ali Bacher.
“India came to South Africa after beating Australia twice in Australia and England in England once, and with four good fast bowlers. I think, before the series started, very few South Africans would have put their money on the home team winning the series. In these circumstances, this has been one of the gutsiest ever performances by a South African team.”
“Man-for-man this South African team, the batters in particular, cannot compare with the likes of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers. Yet this inexperienced South African batter showed guts and determination that I have never seen before from any South African team in the past.”
Ali Backer also had a word of praise for the South African batsmen in the series. He said that they were without their experienced batsmen like AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, Graeme Smith, and Jacques Kallis but still showed great guts and determination which he did not see before from any South African side.
“All the three pitches — the Centurion, The Wanderers and Newlands — aided the fast bowlers. There was a lot of rain at the Centurion and Johannesburg. So I understand that the pitches there aided the fast bowlers. I don’t know why the pitch became difficult for batting at Cape Town. Batting was difficult on all three pitches.”
“The hero of South Africa’s batting performance was Keegan Petersen. His technique is superb, his head is over the ball all the time.To me, he is the find of the series for South Africa and man of the series. He appeared like he has played for ten years and scored thousands of Test runs,” said Ali Bacher.
“South African cricket off the field has been in turmoil on the administrative side. But the team showed extraordinary guts and determination facing one of the best fast bowling groups in the world, and on different pitches that aided fast bowling. This must rank as South Africa’s one of the best Test series win,” said Ali Bacher.
“Nortje is quick, and he bowls at around 150 kmph. He is a very good bowler, and it was a big blow that he was ruled out before the start of the series. He was a big loss. And Quinton (de Kock); retired from Test cricket after Centurion. So South Africa had a great Test series without two of its key players. I cannot praise this team any less,” said Ali Bacher.
Keegan Petersen, who has played only 5 Tests was deservingly the Man of the Match for the 3rd Test with scores of 72 and 82. He was Man of the Series too for being the top scorer with 276 runs. At just 29 years of age and having played 54 Tests, Quinton de Kock announced his retirement from the traditional format at the end of the opening Test against India, which the Proteas lost by 113 runs at SuperSport Park and didn’t feature in the last 2 Tests.
The 28-year-old Anrich Nortje had been in good form in Tests this year, picking up 25 wickets in five matches at an average of 20.76 and a respectable economy rate of 3.30. He missed Proteas three-match Test series against India after failing to recover from “a persistent injury”.
Ali Bacher: Indian Pacers Were Unlucky At Newlands, Cape Town
Ali Bacher said that the Indian bowlers were unfortunate not to extract the maximum benefit from the pitches. Ali Bacher said that all three pitches favoured the pacers but he was surprised to see the uneven bounce in the Cape Town track. He also acknowledged the fact that batting was difficult on all the tracks. India’s first innings score of 327 in Centurion remained the highest score in the series.
“On Friday (Jan 14) India’s fast bowlers were unlucky at Newlands. They were outstanding. So many times they beat the bat by half an inch, a quarter of an inch. Those half inches or quarter-inch misses would have probably taken the outside edge. To be honest, fortune was on South Africa’s side on the fourth day morning. India’s bowlers were superb,” said Ali Bacher.
“Look, all the three pitches this time were very unlike normal South African pitches. They favoured the fast bowlers, in deviation of the seam, particularly in Johannesburg. Even in Cape Town. It was a batsmen’s nightmare this time in South Africa. There was always movement of the seam and variable bounce,” said Ali Bacher.
Ravichandran Ashwin picked up just three wickets in the series. His rival spinning partner Keshav Maharaj picked just one wicket to show for his efforts. The former South African spinner said that he was surprised by how little the spinners bowled in the series. Ali Bacher also praised Rishabh Pant who scored his 4th Test ton.
“Rishabh’s century was a special one. It was a pleasure to watch him bat; the left-hander is a special talent. Ashwin hardly bowled. I have never seen a Test series in South Africa when the spinners had had such little impact. The two spinners hardly bowled,” said Ali Bacher On Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin
Both teams now will play a three-match ODI series between January 19-23. The first two games (January 19, 21) will be played in Paarl while the third and final game will be played in Cape Town.