JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa captain Dean Elgar looked to play down praise for his match-winning performance but said beating India to win the second test on Thursday was a significant step forward for his young team.
Elgar scored an unbeaten 96 runs, weathering a storm of hostile India bowling, to guide his side to a seven-wicket win nL1N2TM101 at the Wanderers and square the series.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but we’ve fought long and hard for this,” the home skipper told a virtual news conference after the victory.
“The last four days have pushed us to different levels within our team and the guys have responded brilliantly. It’s great to know that we’ve accomplished another test win.”
Elgar, 34, took over last year as captain of a side in transition after the retirement of many top players like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, leaving a young replacement side in its wake.
“I’m always team over performance. I don’t play for accolades, I don’t play for the personal gain out of this game,” added Elgar.
“I play for my team mates and winning. Luck was on my side as I was the person that’s got us over the line.
“It’s a nice feeling knowing that you’ve contributed in a big way. I think it means a hell of a lot for me when it comes to influencing our environment and leading from the front.
“I think it makes it a lot easier for guys to follow you and actually trust what you’re saying in the change room.”
But it might be too early, said Elgar, to suggest this was the start of a new era after a run of disappointing test results for South Africa.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction. Look, we’re still going to have a lot of challenging encounters coming our way. Even in the next test, we’re going to be pushed to different boundaries, and it’s how the guys respond to that.
“But I’d like to think this test win is a massive positive, moving in the right direction. Yeah, I think it’s a confidence booster for a lot of our players within the squad, because we’ve got relatively young and inexperienced guys who haven’t been around test cricket for long,” he added.
The deciding match is in Cape Town starting on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)