South Africa head coach Mark Boucher on Sunday (June 19) heaped praise on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, saying that the India seamer put his team under pressure in the powerplay overs throughout the five-T20I series.
Bhuvneshwar finished the series with six wickets while he conceded 85 runs in 14 overs at an impressive economy rate of 6.07.
"Bhuvi was special in this whole series as we came up against some quality bowling. He put us under pressure in Powerplays and barring one game (Delhi), where we got off to a good start, they have dominated us with both ball and bat in Powerplays," Boucher said after the fifth T20I in Bangalore got abandoned due to rain.
The Proteas coach also rued the absence of key batter Aiden Markram, who missed the series due to COVID-19.
"It was tough losing Aiden Markram even before we started the first game. We wanted to play six batters with Aiden being our sixth option and we couldn't do that,” he added.
South Africa's star players such as David Miller, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen and Anrich Nortje were part of the two-month long IPL that preceded the ongoing T20 series.
According to Boucher, the lengthy IPL 2022 season did exhaust the players and that also had an impact on the final result.
"We didn't play our best cricket and it was quite tough on our IPL players to stay throughout the whole IPL and then come to India back-to-back as well," he stated.
"Guys are a little bit tired as well. So they will all enjoy the break and (having learnt a) lot of lessons in World Cup year. And see, if we can plug a few gaps going into Australia albeit in different conditions."
Following the disappointing result in last game, the five-T20I series was shared at 2-2. While the Proteas won the first two T20Is in Delhi and Cuttack, the home team bounced back to register victories in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot.
For the T20 World Cup, slated to be held Down Under, South Africa will have a different game plan.
"Plans will change in Australia and we are aware of that. We tried a few options in these conditions and saw if they worked or not. And I think, we asked a few questions and we got some good answers.
"We struggled to get going in a few of the games and we speak about it after every game and maybe see how we can change our mindset and intent, especially after the third game, when we went after with the intent we needed," he said.
"And our bowling at certain stages was very good and at certain stages, we looked rusty and sort of understand that couple of guys coming into the series after IPL and maybe a bit tired," he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)