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SA vs Ind, 3rd Test, 4th day, Dean Elgar

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“Ultimately, if you want to operate at a high performance level, you need to have tough chats,” Elgar said of pumping up his players

South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar is “extremely proud” of his team for “responding brilliantly” after being down 1-0 in the series to fight back and claim the trophy against the No. 1 Test side in the world. After clinching the series 2-1 with a seven-wicket win in Cape Town, Elgar said his team was “thrown under the sword” a few times in the series, and he had a few “tough chats” with his players, which they responded to “and grew massively in the last two Tests.”

“Pretty elated, I think it will obviously sink in in a day or two, maybe this evening,” Elgar told the host broadcaster at the presentation. “Couldn’t be prouder of the group, of players I have underneath me. We were thrown under the sword quite a few times in the series and the guys responded brilliantly. After the first loss, the boys had a lot of hope going into the second and third [Tests] knowing we can still win this. We obviously had to follow our ways and processes going into those games. [I] asked the players to respond in a better nature, better way and they responded brilliantly. Extremely happy.

When asked how the hosts turned things around despite not being as experienced as India, Elgar said: “Challenging your players within the group, characters as well. You need immense characters to stand up in these kinds of tough situations. The way our bowling unit came in and operated throughout the last two Tests has been brilliant; throughout the series they’ve been brilliant. Sixty wickets in a Test series is quite a tough challenge for them but I threw down the challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly. We’ve got a young, talented group but the experience they’ve been gaining…in this environment every day we’re gaining this experience, which is brilliant for us. It was unreal to see how a group that doesn’t have the repertoire or names, how they could gel together and play as one. This is a proper unit that we’ve operated in and it’s a proper team, by no means I can single-handedly pick out players because everyone has played a big part in vital situations throughout the series. Extremely, extremely proud of this group.”

Like Elgar said, South Africa’s bowling outshone their Indian counterparts throughout the series. Three of South Africa’s four fast bowlers – Kagiso Rabada (20), Marco Jansen (19) and Lungi Ngidi (15) topped the wicket charts while no India bowler could get to 15 wickets in the series.
India captain Virat Kohli also admitted at the presentation that South Africa’s bowlers “were better at applying pressure in long periods of time.” Elgar further said once he had laid down the challenge for his players, it was down to the XI to perform.

“Ultimately, if you want to operate at a high performance level, you need to have tough chats,” Elgar said. “If guys don’t like it, that’s up for them to deal with. I’ve got an old-school mentality with bit of a new-school twist. I laid down some proper challenges to the senior players as well, to obviously stand up and respond and it was brilliant to see the guys take the message and follow it. It’s one of the bigger challenges to get everyone on your side and buy in from a captain’s point of view. The guys responded brilliantly. I’ve got absolutely no regrets going into the three-match series that we’ve played. I’d like to think I gave us the best message going forward in order to pull off a series win.”

More to follow…

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo


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