Legendary South Africa batter Hashim Amla says more “collective experience” in the Indian side was one of the key factors in the visiting side’s comfortable victory in the series-opener at Centurion.
India beat South Africa by 113 runs in the first Test at SuperSport Park to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
“It was a fair result,” said Amla in Cricket South Africa website.
“They (India) have been a strong unit over the last two years or so. They have more experience collectively and it always makes a huge difference when you have runs on the board to back you up.”
South Africa did not have many experienced players in their ranks with only skipper Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi having some decent exposure in traditional format while India had all top players in the line-up.
Amla said India’s big lead in the first innings made all the difference in the outcome of the match.
“Centurion is notorious for becoming more difficult to bat as the days progress. So once India won the toss, batted and scored in excess of 300 it was game on for the Protea batters to match that score at the very least,” Amla said.
“Being 130 runs behind is what really hurt them, and it ended up being the difference.”
The 38-year-old Amla, who scored 9282 runs in 124 Tests at an average of 46.64 with 28 centuries, praised the Indian batters for their top-class show on the first day of the Test.
“Day one, the pitch looked best for batting and credit to the Indians for playing disciplined cricket, he said.
“It’s obvious when teams come to SA that their batsman talk about leaving well outside off stump and that’s probably where the Proteas let themselves down.”
Amla felt the South Africa bowlers fought back well after that tough opening day.
“Not challenging the defence enough. That was day one, but on day two, though, they did extremely well to restrict the Indians to 327. They could have got to 400 plus.
“The bowlers all had their moments. Lungi (Ngidi), KG (Kagiso Rabada) and the youngster (Marco) Jansen stand out of course. However, in a relatively low scoring match I enjoyed watching Temba Bavuma. He always looks like he has time and seldom troubled.
Amla acknowledges there is work to do for the South Africans, although he still believes they can bounce back and defend their proud record of having never lost a home series to India.
There’s certainly a way back but it’s going to take laser-like focus for extended periods and a touch a fortune, he said.
(Captain) Dean (Elgar) and Aiden (Markram) are class players with a pedigree for hundreds and if they get momentum, it would certainly ease the nerves and give much needed confidence for the younger guys.
The batting legend wants Temba Bavuma to bat higher in the order now that Quinton de Kock has retired from Test cricket.
Our two best batters in the middle are Temba and Quinton (de Kock). Now that Quinton has opted out of Test cricket, this cripples the batting line-up further and really, now more than ever, it makes it imperative for Temba to bat higher.
Be it three or four, allow him time to play a solidifying role as opposed to a recovery one.”
The second Test will be played from January 3-7 at Wanderers in Johannesburg.