Dean Elgar led from the front and aided by Keegan Petersen’s twin fifties and brilliance from Marco Jansen and Kagiso Rabada, South Africa won the series 2-1.
South Africa was facing a huge crisis in the series against India. They had lost to an Asian side for the first time in Centurion. After the match, Quinton de Kock announced his retirement from Tests. On the other hand, India had their tails up with Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, and Mohammed Shami breathing fire. The South Africa batting was undone in Centurion. Chasing a total of 240 in Johannesburg, a total chased down only twice since readmission at the Wanderers, South Africa needed someone to lead from the front.
Dean Elgar filled the void brilliantly. He took blows on his body and weathered the storm by Bumrah and Shami. But, Elgar held firm and smashed 96* to help South Africa level the series. In Cape Town, Keegan Petersen smashed twin fifties to give the Proteas a big win. But, throughout the contest, the bowling attack held firm with Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, and Lungi Ngidi delivering for the Proteas. Elgar heaped praise on the approach adopted by South Africa, in which an old-school and new-school approach was adopted.
“I had put up a challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly. Helps to have a group that doesn’t have any real big names, they like to rally together and play as one. And that’s crucial. Extremely proud of this group of players that we have here. Ultimately, if you want to operate at our performance levels, you need tough chats and I’m a bit of old-school mentality with a new-school twist. I laid a few challenges, even to some of the senior players as well. It was great to see the guys take my message on board,” Elgar said in the post-match presentation.
On a difficult wicket in Cape Town, it was Keegan Petersen who stepped up to the plate with a fantastic 72 and 82. Elgar also stepped in the second innings, in which his partnership of 78 was key in the Proteas chasing down 212.
“I think the way he (Petersen) responded since the first game has been immense. Always known him as a good player, he’s gotten into a great player mould now and it’s a lot to say for a player who has hardly played a handful of games. He has dominated domestic cricket for a while now and it’s great to see him do so well in the last two Tests. He’s willing to learn and you need characters like that,” Elgar said.
Petersen, who won the Man of the Match and the Man of the Series Awards, added that contributing on difficult surfaces made all the difference. “It’s been challenging surfaces, challenging bowling attacks. We knew it was going to be difficult – they’re a high-quality bowling attack, a high-quality team. We just wanted to have the mindset to fight it out. Enjoying it (success) a lot. The longer you bat, the easier it gets (on these pitches). So, just enjoyed it a lot,” Petersen said.