Castle Lager Proteas captain, Hashim Amla, has praised the grit from his team in their 124-run loss to India in the third Freedom Series Test match at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur on Friday. Amla described the extreme conditions as the “three toughest days” of his 87-match Test career, but duly praised India’s spinners who took all 20 of South Africa’s wickets.
Although the batsmen put in a more concerted effort in the second innings following on from the paltry first innings contribution, Amla admits the difference between the two teams has been the success of the Indian spinners, who were almost unplayable in favourable conditions.
“There hasn’t been a hundred in the series yet,” Amla said to the media at the post-match press conference. “There have been a handful of fifties at least, in both teams, so it would be harsh to say that this South African team has struggled to score runs. I think if you look at the Indian team, although they are on the winning side, it’s been tough for their batters as well. Given the quality of spinners the Indians do have, obviously it’s going to be a lot tougher for us in these conditions.
“These have probably been three of the toughest days I have experienced in my Test career,” Amla said. “The surface was probably the toughest I have had as well, and the cricket itself was really difficult. So credit to India, they bowled well and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side of this game.”
The series win for India also ends the Proteas’ nine-year unbeaten run away from home, and will no doubt shape and strengthen the characters leading the new era of South African Test cricket.
“It is very disappointing,” Amla conceded. “Fortunately, throughout my career, we’ve been travelling away and managing to play very good cricket. I suppose one kind of consolation would be that the conditions we’ve had to play in were probably nothing like we’ve had when we’ve played away from home, and that is a type of challenge we’ve never experienced before.
“Just thinking back to when I first started, South Africa as a team almost looked very similar to what it is at the moment. We had some really great players in Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith who were probably at their prime at that stage and some young guns who were coming into the team, I think myself and AB (de Villiers) were around. At the moment our team is similar to that, we’re breeding a few younger guys coming in. But it is very disappointing to lose a series away from home after nine years and to be part of it, I hope it doesn’t happen again for us.”