Kimberley - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis on Tuesday night wrote off his team’s ODI series demise to inconsistency and the fact that some of the less experienced players were thrown in over their heads. Going into the first match in Paarl the Proteas were the top ranked team in the world and taking on the lowly number nines on the rankings simply didn’t seem that tall an order.
However, the Black Caps showed in Kimberley that they are not to be taken lightly as they managed to leap to a 2-0 lead in the series with one match to come. Their success is largely thanks to a stellar effort of 145 not out by Kane Williamson but it is what they did in the field that really took its toll.
“This match was a very different experience from captaining the T20s and it was a really tough game,” Du Plessis said in his post match conference, “We have a lot to learn from this experience.”
The visitors reached 279/8 thanks to a superb partnership between Williamson and Grant Elliott (48) and when Graeme Smith and Colin Ingram surpassed their 100 run second wicket stay, it appeared as though the Proteas may cruise home with time to spare. When Smith was dismissed via run out for 66 an unforgiveable four of his teammates were sent packing in the same fashion thanks to sharp fielding and poor decision making.
“Graeme and Colin played us into a very good position but when Graeme went and I followed in quick succession we placed a lot of pressure on the less experienced guys and I think they struggled. We really let it slip towards the end but sometimes that is just how you learn in order to become better.
“It’s not often that you have five run outs in an innings and this is something we will seriously need to address and gain experience from.”
“It was tough for the younger guys out there especially when they come in knowing that it is up to them to win it for their country.”
On what was said to be a 300 wicket, Du Plessis also felt that more could have been done to avoid being set a target of 280. The problem of extras appeared to have been remedied but after only conceding 19 off the first 10 overs, the Proteas could well have had more of a fighting chance.
“I think the best way to describe our bowling today is inconsistent we went through good and bad patches but we should have restricted them by 20 to 30 runs.”
Kiwi skipper Brendan McCullum said that his side was thrilled to have salvaged something from the tour of South Africa after losing face in the T20 and Test series. He admitted that there were periods of panic during the Proteas second wicket partnership of 129 runs but after the side had posted a good target they always knew that they were in the game.
“While Smith and Ingram were batting there was a period when we did feel the pressure but we put this behind us and kept reminding ourselves that our runs are already on the board. We just needed to hang in there and take the wickets and with all those run-outs came plenty of momentum.
“After what happened in the test series we knew that the ODIs were going to be big for us and that we would have to play out of our skins. I thought the guys showed lots of character and I’m really pleased with the way things went.”
McCullum said that the partnership between Elliott and Williamson had played a massive part but added that it was the attitude of his side that had allowed for a famous series win.
“Our attitude and execution got us through tonight and to claim five run outs in an innings is amazing for us. What is even greater for us though is that we managed to beat South Africa in South Africa which really is an achievement.”