Rassie van der Dussen played only three games for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League this season but the experience of being part of the squad, watching the matches and soaking in the heat came in handy on Thursday as he ripped India’s bowling apart to lead his team to its highest ever run-chase.
He wasn’t able to accelerate from the very beginning of his innings, but he really hit his stride after being dropped in the 16th over. In the 17th, he collected 22 runs off Harshal Patel with three sixes and a four. He followed it up with a six and two fours off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the next to take the game away from India.
“In that situation, 13 an over, it’s not going to happen very often. We had clear plans of what we were looking for, but the key was – if it wasn’t in your area, make sure you get off strike. Get the other guy on, make him execute his plans. And also, another lesson was, if you hit a six or two an over, don’t let the guy get away. Keep looking for those options. That Harshal over went for 22,” Van der Dussen said after the game.
Appreciating David Miller for his ball-striking, he said, “I struggled to get the pace of the wicket, and the few shots of mine found the fielders, so there was a bit of pressure [early on]. But David, the form he has been in in the IPL, he just brought that in and put the pressure from the start, and he played a brilliant innings to pull me through that phase there. As soon as he hit one or two sixes, the momentum started shifting towards us, and we knew if we could take it to the end, we would get close.”
Van der Dussen reserved a word of appreciation for Harshal for his bowling in the IPL, even though he got hit in this game. Talking about that 17th over which changed the complexion of the game,“I've been watching him. All IPL he has been brilliant. He has such a good slower ball. So I knew after getting those first two sixes away he has to go to his slower balls. And then it’s a matter of picking it and keeping your head still and try and execute it – it’s a very tough ball to hit.
He gets a lot of energy on it, he gets a lot of depth on it. But he’s only human, so you know at some stage he’s probably going to miss. In saying that, Avesh Khan didn’t really miss tonight. As a batter then you’ve just got to be patient and stay strong through the balls that he bowled so well,” he said.
Overall, as a team, however, it was the exposure many of the players had gained through the IPL that allowed them to excel on the day, acknowledged van der Dussen. “Myself, I watched a lot of the IPL games. Had a pretty good idea what the bowlers would do. And he conditions, Indian conditions are different from what we have in South Africa. I’ve spent two months here, or over two months – didn’t play a lot but been in these conditions, been in the heat – got acclimatised to that and I think that goes for everyone. A lot of guys have played IPL this year and it’s helped us in the first game. We have a bit of a history of losing the first game of the series, and then coming back. But in this first game it really helped us to adapt quicker,” he said.
India didn’t lose because of one player – Kishan
Ishan Kishan refused to attribute India’s loss to Shreyas’ dropped catch during the business end of South Africa’s run chase. The bowling needed to be better, he felt.
“If we have lost a game, it wasn’t because of one player. We need to address the mistakes we made in the bowling department or the fielding department, but it’s never one player who makes us lose the match. I know catches do win matches, but at the same time we need to be a bit better in our bowling department so that we can come stronger in our next game,” he said.
Kishan also pointed out that the pitch had become better for batting during the second half of the game.
“Right now Miller is in a great form, and I know it wasn’t easy [for India] because the boundaries were small, the pitch was getting better. It wasn’t like the first innings, how we batted. The ball was seaming; the ball was not coming on the bat properly. There was double bounce. But in the run chase it was not the same. Bowlers were trying [hard], [but] we need to address the mistakes we made in this game,” he said.
Talking about his own experience of building his innings of 76 after being inserted in by the opposition, Kishan said, “Initially, we knew the wicket wasn’t easy to get going, and it will be tough for batsmen coming after me. My plan was to just target the loose balls, because in T20 games the Powerplay is also important and we needed to put pressure on the bowlers. We need to respect the good deliveries as well – [Anrich] Nortje and [Kagiso] Rabada have done so well for their country. But my plan was to just keep them in the back foot. Keep playing my shots so that they are also thinking and they move their line and length.”