South African batting coach Dale Benkenstein, on Friday, heaped praise on his star batsman AB de Villiers, saying his partnership with Captain Faf du Plessis changed the game for the hosts after the spine-breaking overs by Indian medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Cape Town.
On 5 January, the Proteas won the toss and went into bat first in the greenly Newlands wicket, but Bhuvneshwar took charge and brilliantly made his victim Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, and Hashim Amla, reducing the hosts to a measly 12/3, ultimately the dismissed them at 286/10 in their first innings of the first Test of the three-match series in Cape Town.
Speaking to the media at the end of Days play, Dale Benkenstein credits the genius de Villiers and Faf du Plessis for changing the momentum of the game for the hosts at Newlands.
As per Cricketnext, Benkenstein said, “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.”
The coach further added, “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.”
Commenting on their decision to choose bat first after winning the toss, Berkenstein said, “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.”
While praising comeback man Dale Steyn, the coach said that the speedster has done a lot of hard work to get fit and come back that paid off, saying he bowled beautifully at India.
Benkenstein concluded by saying, “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 the 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.”