AB de Villiers has pulled up South Africa's seven specialist batsmen for their failure to finish off the second ODI in Indore after their bowlers gave them an early advantage. At a ground where one of ODI cricket's sixteen 400-plus totals was made, de Villiers thought India's sub-250 score was gettable and that the batsmen in his line-up, not the tailenders, should have sealed the win.
"It's up to the top seven to win games for us especially when we chase totals which we feel are below par; 240 was below par," de Villiers said. "There are certain games in one-day cricket where the tail-enders need to chip in and I thought they chipped in pretty well today. I can't blame them. It's the top seven's responsibility to chase it down. With experience like that we should be finishing games."
Although South Africa boasted the highest-partnership in the match, 82 between Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy, de Villiers said that the lack of any supporting stands was what undid his team. "The turning point was the breaking of the partnerships - Hashim and Quinton started really well, then India broke through there and JP and Faf batted really well and there was another breakthrough. We didn't make any of our partnerships count so we have ourselves to blame," he said.
The self-criticism came because "most of the dismissals were pretty soft," according to de Villiers, who was among those who gave it away. De Villiers played a poor shot to present a chance to Virat kohli after du Plessis and David Miller had both offered catches they may not be happy with.
Miller, in particular, may have reason to be concerned. His lean run has stretched to an unlucky 13 innings without an ODI half-century and he has five scores under 15 in his last seven innings, much longer than what de Villiers suggested in defending him.
"David Miller has had a couple of not so good games but he had a really good World Cup which was only four games ago so people shouldn't be too harsh on him. I think he is still an amazing player. He almost single-handedly won us the semi-final in the World Cup and that is only four ODIs ago," de Villiers said, before confirming that, "David is still our go to man."
Miller will have to be, especially if de Villiers is sidelined for over-rate violations, which he is dangerously close to being. After being fined for maintaining a slow over-rate in the first ODI, de Villiers is one violation away from being forced to sit out and South Africa were slow again in Indore, so much so that the dinner break was cut.
The immediate aftermath was more about what would have happened if South Africa had matched India better. De Villiers was not short of praise for a resurgent Indian side who he said "never gave up with the bat or ball," but maintained that his own team let victory slip away. "They played some decent cricket but we know we should have won that game," he said.
He would not even be drawn into the what-ifs of the official kind after the umpire Vineet Kulkarni gave Farhaan Behardien out caught behind off a delivery, though the replays and snicko showed no signs of a nick. "I don't like to comment on umpires decisions, I like to keep it to myself. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong and that's part of the game," de Villiers said. "Whether Behardien was out or not I am not sure and it's not up to me to decide that."
Kulkarni is already in the bad books of the Indian team, who announced their intention to issue a complaint against him after he did not give JP Duminy out in the first T20 when he looked plumb lbw, and did give Shikhar Dhawan out in the first ODI, when the ball was going down leg. De Villiers said South Africa will not be doing the same.
"We are not the kind of cricket team and I am not the kind of captain to go and publicly criticise the umpires. They give it their best out there. They get some right, they get some wrong. I don't think it changed the game," he said. "We had opportunities to win and we didn't take it. That's part of sport."