de Villiers all praise for Steyn’s bowling and de Kock’s knock

Thursday night at the Wanderers witnessed glaring contrasts and the promise of a new talent on the horizon.

If India’s poor bowling pitted against South Africa’s cutting-edge pace, as exemplified by Dale Steyn (three for 25), was a study in differences, Quinton de Kock’s 135 was a moment to celebrate a 20-year-old’s continuing progress while he steps into the enviable shoes of the great Mark Boucher, who sparkled as an outstanding wicket-keeper and gutsy batsman.

Both themes were dwelt upon at the post-match press-conference here late on Thursday night. Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that his seamers bowled a bit short and failed to get wickets in their opening spells and he also pointed out to the lengths that Steyn bowled to keep Rohit Sharma quiet.

Steyn was profusely praised by Dhoni’s counterpart A.B. de Villiers, who also showed warmth akin to a family-patriarch while guiding de Kock in his media-interaction at the end of which the Proteas skipper ruffled his opener’s hair and patted his shoulder.

Excerpts

India’s cold-start, especially its seamers

Dhoni: Overall it was a bad performance. It started with the bowlers initially. This was not really a 350-plus wicket. We were supposed to bowl it up, and the wicket would have done the rest.

We didn't get the kind of start that was needed. At the same time we should have backed it up with some good batting, but we weren't able to do it.

They (the South Africans) know the conditions better than us. They know what lengths to bowl. That is one of the reasons why I want our bowlers to step up, so that you don't give away 300 runs. That puts pressure on the batsmen because they have to go after the bowling right from the first ball, which was not easy on this wicket against bowlers like Dale Steyn. If you see how he bowled to Rohit, he didn't move away from the good areas.

On Lack of warm-up games

Dhoni: It is difficult but when you know the schedule, you have to mentally prepare yourself. We play throughout the year. We played West Indies, had two or three days off, and came here. Let us not complain about what is not there. At the end of the day what is important is what is in your hand.

Steyn’s menace

de Villiers: It is a pleasure having him in the side. I try and bowl him at the right time so that he will be most effective. He was very effective in every single spell he bowled. He brings a lot of intensity and energy to the party. He leads the bowling attack well, setting a good pace for us upfront.

As for that game (referring to de Villiers’ (playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore) assault on Steyn (Deccan Chargers) in an Indian Premier League game at Bangalore in 2012), I had to go for it and had no choice and I was lucky that day. I was prepared to be out so when you go after him, be prepared to get out.

Runs to savour

de Kock: I am not thinking too much about shoes (Boucher’s) to fill. I am part of a team and I do what the team expects me to do. I wasn’t sure about playing this game (de Villiers interrupts – ‘he is lying, he is always part of the squad).

I wanted to score runs and as for R. Ashwin (against whom he played aggressively), he is a world-class bowler but I played my shots.

More In: Cricket | Sport