'We're nowhere near the No. 1 team in the world' - de Villiers
Beat the No. 1 side by 141 runs. Beat them again by 134. In the first game, put them under a mountain of runs and straitjacket them with exceptional quick bowling. In the next, watch the same batsmen capitulate through low-percentage shots. This tour has all the makings of being to South Africa what the West Indies series was to India in November. And never mind what Dale Steyn feels, South Africa's elder statesmen are not getting ahead of themselves. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla both laughed heartily when asked if this Indian team was proving to be too easy, but they wouldn't get drawn into making what could be seen as inappropriate statements that might come back to bite them later.
De Villiers was at pains to not be seen as arrogant when ahead. When asked if it was becoming a bit easy, because it felt so from the outside, de Villiers repeated the "no" five times.
"They are a world-class unit," de Villiers said. "They are world champions. I can go for an hour if I talk about the Indian team. [I] still expect them to come back in the third ODI. A lot of pride to play for. It will be massive for us to beat them 3-0. A lot to play for. They are still a world-class unit. We will always have respect for them as a team."
After his press conference, de Villiers moved to the right, and gave unassuming Hashim Amla the seat in front of the microphones. Now Amla and Quinton de Kock have added more than 150 in back-to-back games against India's bowling, becoming only the second pair in ODIs to do so. At times in the Durban ODI, it looked like they were not tested at all. Like de Villiers, Amla, too, was asked if the Indian bowling was "easy meat" for the openers.
Amla let out a loud laugh and said, "You want such a controversial thing for me to say."
After everyone had had their laughs and drawn their own inferences, Amla went on to say: "Nothing at all like that. Fortunately for me and Quinny [de Kock] - to score runs you need things to go your way. In both games, we could have got caught with leading edges, caught third man… Things have just gone our way in the last two games. India have bowled well upfront. We haven't gone off to blistering starts, just knocked it around a bit and bided our time. In the first game, AB and JP [Duminy] were the guys who did a bulk of the damage at the back end. Before that, they had bowled quite well. So there is no such thing as easy meat. We have fortunately got things going our way."
Having said that, de Villiers was pretty pleased his side had beaten the No. 1 side in ODIs so comprehensively in successive matches.
"We are nowhere near the No. 1 team in the world at the moment even though we have beaten them two in a row now," de Villiers said. "We know tournaments like the World Cup, they are about 11 games, this is just two in a row. It's definitely a step in the right direction, but in a humble way we would like to work hard on our game and make sure we still compete with the best in the world consistently."
Steyn's remarks that a few of the Indian batsmen might have been scared were still being talked about, but de Villiers also said that his batsmen have been setting up the games. He was "chuffed" that his lower order got him crucial runs in this match - especially the 29 in the last two overs - that turned a total just over par into a superlative one. Especially given South Africa's bowling, which now seems to have established a hold on the Indian batsmen.
"Hopefully, we did scare off a few of their batters going into the final ODI and the Test series," de Villiers said. "It's always nice to sort of scare a few batters going into a big series like this, especially a batting line-up like the Indian team has. I think they are very talented and to sort of get under their skin is always important, especially in home conditions."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo