SA batting coach praises AB de Villiers for changing the momentum in their favor

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SA batting coach praises AB de Villiers for changing the momentum in their favor

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SportsCafe Desk


SA batting coach Dale Benkenstein has praised AB de Villiers by stating that his 114-run partnership with Faf du Plessis helped the hosts gain a foothold in the game. He also commended Dale Steyn’s effort after his injury layoff and hoped that he would maintain his fitness for the entire series.

After Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s brutal initial burst, South Africa found themselves in a heap of trouble with just 12 runs on the board and 3 top order batsmen back in the pavilion. The Proteas needed someone to take away the pressure and the responsibility was shouldered by none other than de Villiers who did brilliantly to counter attack Bhuvneshwar. The South African batsman used the ninth over, Bhuvneshwar’s fifth to show some attacking cricket as he smashed four boundaries in a single over. The right-hand batsman ended up amassing 11 fours during his 65-run knock before he played on a Jasprit Bumrah delivery onto his stumps. Benkenstein called the over a game changer and revealed that before the ninth over he was thinking of booking an Uber back to his hotel.

"At 12/3, it was not the best feeling as a batting coach. I was thinking of taking an Uber and leaving for the hotel because I didn't know how we were going to score runs on this wicket, India are a quality bowling attack. The class and genius of AB and the tenacity of our captain (Faf du Plessis) changed the momentum of the game, or rather that innings from AB," said Benkenstein at the end of days play as quoted by Cricketnext.

"That one over (when de Villiers score 17 runs off Bhuvneshwar) was a game-changer. It was definitely the genius of AB. You cannot tell him how to bat as a coach. It made the bowlers worry about their lengths and that partnership of 100 runs got us back in the game. It brought belief back in the change room." 

The hosts won the toss and decided to bat first which seemed appeared to be a questionable decision even before Bhuvesnwar ran riot with the new ball. Berkenstein admitted that the team selection wasn’t easy for them as they dropped Temba Bavuma and Chris Morris in the search of best results for the team.

"It was a tough decision to bat first. Conditions were such that we would have liked to play an extra batsman. With AB and Faf back, we had our top six batsmen, so we wanted to go with our best bowling attack. As a group we felt this was the best team, I am always encouraging our bowlers to bat well. I tell them that three of them are our all-rounders. Most of them can actually bat. And it was really vital that the runs they scored helped us. It is encouraging to have a game plan for such situations. Those runs will give us a cushion later in the game," he added.

After a lengthy absence from the international circuit, Steyn, who broke a bone in his shoulder during the Perth Test in November 2016, found a place in the playing XI against India in the first Test of the series. He proved selectors’ decision right by claiming Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket in the sixth over of the visitor’s innings. The batting coach also reserved praise for Steyn, saying his hard work paid off.

"Steyn bowled beautifully. He has done a lot of hard work to get fit and come back. That one wicket will do wonders for him. His pace was up to what he normally bowls with a new ball and he will probably crank it up with the older ball.

"Hopefully, he will stay fit and his body will hold through this series. From a mental point of view, that was a massive four overs he bowled and it is a huge benefit for us," he added.

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