South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis believes India is the toughest away tour for any country at the moment after his side were emphatically whitewashed by 3-0 in the Test series against the hosts.
The visitors’ tail lasted just two overs on Day Four of the final Test in Ranchi as they fell to a mammoth defeat by a margin of an innings and 202 runs. It was the worst Test defeat South Africa have ever suffered at the hands of India and it comes just a week after they were turned over by similar margin of an innings and 137 runs in the second match of the series at Pune.
After South Africa came on the receiving end of a first-ever Test series clean sweep at the hands of India, Du Plessis was blunt in his assessment of the Proteas performance on the tour.
“Every Test, we made more mistakes. But we have to give credit to the Indian team,” the South Africa skipper told broadcasters Star Sports after the Ranchi loss.
“They were ruthless and they were better than us in every department – spin bowling, fast bowling, batting and even the fielding. They are a difficult team to overcome.
“The mindset after the 2015 tour was to prepare ourselves for really spinning tracks, but it’s been the opposite. Really sporting tracks – fantastic for fast bowlers and even for batsmen. There’s a lot to learn for us.”
More than spin, pace proved to be South Africa’s undoing in the series with Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav grabbing 24 wickets between themselves in the three Tests. Du Plessis admitted as much while showering praise on India’s pace battery.
“I think it’s the skill of the (Indian pace) bowlers. They have a skiddy nature and they hit the right spots and the stumps at all times. Those are the things we talked about before we came here, but naturally the length in South Africa has to be a little shorter, and that takes time to adjust,” he explained.
While there weren’t many positives to take for the visitors from a dismal series whitewash, the captain feels the experience of the tour will stand the youngsters in good stead for future tours of India.
“It’s important that we have some young guys, and they’ll experience this in three to four years’ time. It was important for us to take something back again. We have to learn to compete the next time again. This is the toughest tour on the circuit, 11 series wins in a row bears testament to that.”
Meanwhile, his India counterpart Virat Kohli was naturally delighted with his side’s dominant series display with the skipper reserving special praise for the pace unit.
“To be the best side in the world, you have to be multi-dimensional,” Kohli remarked after taking hold of the Freedom Trophy.
“Spin was always our strength, batting was never a problem for us. Ishant (Sharma) was the only experienced bowler for us. We said we can play an extra bowler, and as batsmen we said we’ll get the job done. We’ve got runs in every Test match, our catching has been good too.
“As I said, even without much experience, we travelled very well. We believe we can win anywhere. As long as we keep working with honest intent, those things will follow. We’ve wanted to be the best team in Test cricket, and as long as we compete, things will work out well for us.”
The hosts had already wrapped up a world record 11th straight home Test series win after comprehensive victories in Vizag and Pune, with the Ranchi triumph proving to be the icing on the cake. With five victories in as many matches, India’s lead at the top of the ICC World Test Championship has now been extended to a whopping 180 points over second-placed New Zealand who currently have 60 points in their kitty.
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