SA in India 2015-16 December 7, 2015

Morkel, de Villiers leave with heads held high

ESPNcricinfo marks the South Africa players out of 10 following their 3-0 series defeat in India

AB de Villiers was the only South Africa batsman to have some measure of the conditions at every venue © Associated Press


Morne Morkel (nine wickets at 20.66)

Defied the surfaces and his own bowling style with searing spells to lead the attack in the absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, and did so better than expected. In Nagpur, Morkel produced reverse swing reminiscent of the two Ws and in Delhi, he pitched he troubled batsmen with a clever combination of short balls and fuller ones, even producing a magic yorker that would have made Lasith Malinga proud. Morkel finished as the leading wicket-taker among the seamers on both sides with nine wickets at an average of 20.66


AB de Villiers (258 runs at 36.85)

The only South African batsman to have some measure of conditions at every venue. Was the second highest run-scorer in a series where South Africa did not score one total over 250, and was their only milestone-maker, with half-centuries in Mohali and in his 100th Test in Bangalore where he did not allow the spinners to dictate to him the way his team-mates. De Villiers then switched gears completely in Delhi where he showed discipline required to dead-bat for almost six hours in a valiant, but unsuccessful effort to save the final Test.


Temba Bavuma (One Test)

Thrust into the opening role in just his fifth Test, Temba Bavuma demonstrated temperament of a man beyond his level of experience. He was compact and calm in the first innings where he also managed to collect more runs than anyone other than de Villiers, and then impressively calm in the second, where he needed to show the restraint required of the South African approach. In total, he batted for four hours and two minutes in the match and showed the staying power South Africa may want in future.

Kyle Abbott (Two Tests)

As the yo-yo bowler in the side, it can be difficult for Abbott to settle, but he takes his chances whenever he is given them. He only bowled six overs in Bangalore but played a much bigger role in Delhi, where he claimed a first-innings five-for and proved he can be more than just a back-up bowler. Abbott's ability to swing the ball and threaten with bounce should see him play more of a role for South Africa in future.


Simon Harmer (Two Tests)

As the second spinner in South Africa's XI behind Imran Tahir, Harmer operated more like a frontliner. He was used early on in innings when the ball was still hard as a container and combined that with a decent ability to take wickets. Harmer seems more of a fit for the South Africa team than Tahir - he found turn, took wickets and held an end. He should have some future in the Test outfit.

Dane Piedt (One Test)

With more variation than Harmer, Piedt is a different kind of offspinner which gives South Africa an interesting conundrum when choosing between them. Piedt took his chance in Delhi and performed admirably in the first innings although fatigue undid some of his good work.


Dean Elgar (137 runs at 19.57, five wickets at 27.20)

A feisty competitor, Elgar's first impression in the series was with ball in hand when he took four wickets on the first day of the series but his value was always going to be judged on how he batted. He got starts in every innings and often threw his wicket away in frustration. As the senior opener, he showed the ability but not always the application to accumulate runs. He however continues to offer South Africa a handy part-time bowling option.

Imran Tahir (14 wickets at 21.35)

In his comeback series, Tahir should be happy to have ended South Africa's leading wicket-taker but he had less than half the scalps of his Indian counterpart - 14 to his name compared with R Ashwin's 31- to put his performance into context. Tahir's underwhelming was not always his own doing. He was underused and misused by his captain, who was hesitant to bowl him too early because of a tendency to leak runs and his confidence suffered as a result. His Test career now hangs in the balance.


Hashim Amla (118 runs at 16.85)

A lean run which started in the limited-overs' series spilled over into the Tests and Amla appeared a man preoccupied for most of it. His usual elegance and finesse were nowhere to be seen as his shot selection was questionable and footwork non-existent. He played himself back into some kind of form by leading the Delhi blockathon where he was able to tighten up his defense because he did not have to worry about scoring runs. As a captain, Amla showed some creative sparks in the first and third Tests. However, his use of Tahir, eventual running out of ideas, spreading the field to the Indian batsmen and letting them have their way may have some worried.

Morne Morkel lead South Africa's attack admirably in the absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander © BCCI


Faf du Plessis (60 runs at 8.57)

He was the first South African to mention the conditions (saying he was expecting "the worst" in Mohali) and they seemed to affect him the most. A nightmare start to the series that saw him score two ducks in three innings promoted a move to further down the order, but even there, he could not escape the rut. He spent some time in the middle in Nagpur and Delhi to suggest some of the pieces are falling back into place but over the course of this series, Ravindra Jadeja mostly had the better of him.

JP Duminy (70 runs at 14.00)

Spoken about as the balancer of the South African XI, Duminy's injury-enforced absence in the first Test was thought to have robbed South Africa of part of their ability to compete, but he did not make much of an impact on return. He struggled to hold together a floundering batting line-up and was barely present as a bowler. With minimal contributions in either department, his role in the side is rightly being questioned.


Stiaan van Zyl (56 runs at 11.20)

Opening for just the second time in a series, van Zyl needed to do well to secure a more permanent spot and did not manage that. He appeared completely out of his depth against spin and fell to R Ashwin five times in as many innings, often not playing for tun. He was left out of the Delhi Test.

Dane Vilas (60 runs at 8.57)

Being the first-choice wicketkeeper on a tour of the subcontinent seemed to flatter Vilas' ability which did not appear up to standard. He struggled when standing up to the stumps against the low bounce and was equally unsure in front of them. Vilas had a difficult job and the pressure on him only grew as the series went on and South Africa shaky line-up showed no signs of firming up.


Dale Steyn (One Test)

There was no repeat of the magic Steyn produced the last time South Africa toured India because he sat out more than three-quarters of the seres injured. Steyn went wicketless in the 11 overs he bowled in the first innings in the Mohali Test before picking up a groin strain that sidelined him for the rest of the series.

Vernon Philander (One Test)

This was meant to be the tour that tested Philander's ability to bowl on surfaces which would not offer him anything, but he did not really get the chance to show what he could do. After three wickets in a probing performance in Mohali, Philander tore ankle ligaments in the warm-ups before Bangalore to bring his tour to a premature end.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent