'Immensely proud' Dean Elgar lauds South Africa's character in 'tough conditions'

"It's something I think we lacked in the previous game, and I think we ticked those boxes pretty well towards the end of today."

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
South Africa captain Dean Elgar has heaped praise on his side for their dogged fightback in the Wanderers Tests against India, as they levelled the series 1-1 with a seven-wicket win in the second match in "tough" conditions. He singled out his bowling attack for skittling out the opposition's 10 wickets in each innings, limiting India to just 202 and 266.
"I don't think there's a right or wrong way of winning a game of cricket. But I think the one thing that doesn't go away is basic fundamentals of playing the game, basics of bowling, basics of batting," Elgar told the host broadcaster in the post-match interview. "It's something I think we lacked in the previous game, and I think we ticked those boxes pretty well towards the end of today.
"The message I sent out to the guys I, 'Let's focus on the second game. Let's get a win. Let's go one-all, and we go to Cape Town, where we've got a very good record as well. Saying that, it wasn't easy. It was some tough conditions that we had to face as a batting unit. There were times when the Indian batters were on top of us and as bowlers we had to obviously pull it back, and massive respect has to go to our bowling unit. They showed a lot of character. Again, to get 20 wickets in a Test is a great feat."
Adjudged Player of the Match for his unbeaten, second-innings 96 in the opening position, Elgar, who strung four 40-plus partnerships across the final session on day three and the best part of the fourth day in South Africa's 240 chase, played down the multiple blows he copped on his body from the Indian pace attack.
"It's always a privilege to represent your country," Elgar said. "I'd like to think those knocks that I take make me extra motivated to go out there and perform. Some would call it stupid, some would call a brave but I'm immensely proud of playing for the Proteas.
"It doesn't matter what I go through. I know there's always a bigger picture, and the bigger picture is for us to win and obviously play a good brand of cricket and that's something I'd want to instill into our young group. I want to show the guys that it's okay to take a few blows because when you when you perform like that over four days, it's so worth it. So yeah, it doesn't just speak for me; it speaks for everyone within our squad."
One of his stands, worth 82 for the third wicket, had Rassie van der Dussen as the aggressor. Dussen, the right-hander in the left-right combination, struck a 92-ball 40, helping take the hosts past the 150 mark early on the penultimate day. Elgar, who added 27 to that partnership, commended his partner's effort.
"I am glad for Rassie," Elgar said. "I know he's been through a bit of a tough time. I think that 40 that he scored is going to go a long way for his career. I don't think he realises that just now but those kind of moments builds character, builds personnel within your set-up and I just think from a character point of view, he's gonna learn a hell of a lot."
Elgar also stressed the win, South Africa's first against India in a Test at Wanderers and the hosts' third-highest fourth-innings chase, signalled a step in the right direction towards getting long-desired stability in the team's batting make-up.
"Again, a lot of testament goes to our batters," he said. "We we've been struggling a little bit over the past few seasons to get a stable batting line-up, retirements and that has happened and we had to fulfill those roles and we've had to be very patient. We've obviously entrusted those positions with guys that we feel can fulfill those roles and yeah, it was great to see and pull it off in the second innings under not easy conditions. Let's put it that way. I think it speaks volumes for us."

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha