After the first-ever ODI series win in SA, Virat Kohli believes that the pressure of losing the series got over the hosts and they eventually succumbed to that and lost wickets in a heap. Aiden Markram, on the other hand, hailed India's "better plan execution" as the reason for their series loss.
After a failure to contain the South African middle-order in the fourth ODI in Johannesburg, India proved that the hosts’ victory was just a fluke and completed their first series victory on the South African soil by winning the penultimate ODI by 73 runs. The visitors now have a series lead of 4-1 with one match to go, which left the hosts with plenty to ponder on ahead of the final ODI in Centurion. And Kohli believes that the hosts were under tremendous pressure after being trailed by 3-1 and India capitalised on that to secure the historic series victory.
“Very pleased with our performance today. Another convincing win for us and I thought the guys really got stuck in, with the bat, with the ball and on the field as well. It was a complete performance from us which was important to put together after the last game. Only one team had the pressure of losing the series right from the start and that was South Africa. We knew that a few mistakes and we'd be right back in the game. Right from the third Test in Jo'burg it has been a great time for us,” Kohli said, in the post-match presentation ceremony.
“We've been playing some really good cricket and it has been a collective effort from the team-mates, the support staff and everybody; feels wonderful to be 4-1 up. When three guys at the top are playing well and scoring consistently, every now and then you get an opportunity where you might not click, and when this series is wrapped up we'll look to think about what we can do to improve and strengthen as we move forward.”
Lack of runs from the Indian middle-order in the series has been the team’s chief concern and the series win now gives the team an opportunity to give the fringe players a chance in the playing XI. While maintaining that 5-1 will be their main target, the Indian skipper didn’t shy away from admitting that they would think to test their bench strength in the last ODI.
“Every team has a vision of the 2019 World Cup and that's what we need to plan for, but for now 4-1 seems great and we'll look to wrap it up well. We want to win 5-1 for sure, that doesn't change, but there'll be a chance for others to step in as well. The first priority is to win and we'll do anything to do that again.”
While injuries at various points in the series have proved to be a mitigation for South Africa's struggles, the inability to counter the Indian wrist-spinners happened to be the devastating trial by fire. It can be understood from the fact that Faf du Plessis, who has played only the first ODI in the series, is the second-highest run-scorer for South Africa in this series. However, instead of ruing their batsmen’s failure to put up good scores or chase down the totals, Markram credited Indian team for their better execution of plans.
“Credit to the Indians, they played very well today. Still happy with what we had to chase out there today. Our batting wasn't up to scratch, and it is hard to keep up the momentum when you lose wickets in clumps. These are some quality Indian players in good form so credit to them, they nailed the execution of their plans,” Markram said during the presentation ceremony.
“We are going to have to find a way to build partnerships just to gain some momentum and build some pressure on them. They've bowled well, they took wickets and the more we play them the better we'll get. So all credit to them (the Indian spinners), and we'll look to improve our skills against quality wrist-spin. A lot of pride to play for in the dead-rubber and we will look to bounce back and end the ODI series on a positive note at Centurion. We'll try to work on putting that perfect game together in the next one.”