South African batsman Dean Elgar on Tuesday admitted that the conditions worked in India's favour but his side somehow found a way to be on top of the proceedings in the second Test in Centurion. At the end of the fourth day's play, India were reduced to 35/3 while chasing 287 and they were staring at a series defeat.
"It was a brilliant day for South Africa. By no means was it an easy day. The conditions worked in India's favour. The ball was turning quite a bit for Ashwin and he utilized it quite nicely, especially against the left-handers. Their seamers were quite effective in conditions they seem quite used to bowling in," said Elgar.
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"We were in quite a lot of trouble yesterday when AB and I got together, and we knew we had to find a way and grind it out. We were very thankful for the lead on that wicket - whether it was 30 runs or 50 runs - it was going to prove quite a lot. It was a good day for us and the cherry on the top was the way the bowlers put their hands up," he said at the post-match press conference.
Elgar and de Villiers put on 141 runs for the third wicket and set up the base for South Africa's second innings that ended on 258.
The opener made his highest score - 61 runs - at this ground in the second innings.
"We had to try and bat as long as possible. There was so much time left in the game. We knew we had to knuckle down and work in small segments. Our first target was to reach drinks and then as we started getting used to the pace of the wicket, run-scoring opportunities proved to be easier. That was the nature throughout the day," said the opener.
"When Vernon Philander and Faf du Plessis were batting together, you could see it was a tough start and then scoring became easier. One ball has got your name on it and you have to be quite cautious because of the unknown. It was to take it as deep as possible, get their bowlers to bowl a lot of overs," he added.
Asked about the pitch, he said, "First and foremost I am not a curator of a cricket ground.
We give an indication of what we would like as a team playing against various opposition, and being the home country you have that right. As it's working out, the wicket is playing into our favour. If the shoe was on the other foot, I think we would feel quite hard done by."
"It's very disappointing because SuperSport Park usually prepares very good Test pitches and as day three, four and five roll on it proves to be very competitive. It shows you should not just be relying on your first innings, you should be relying on your second to score runs as well.
"It's a little disappointing to have a wicket of this nature because it's not what we would choose to play a subcontinental side on, but so be it, we are done complaining about it. We just need to crack on and try and win a Test," he added.
The big blow for India came when Lungi Ngidi trapped Virat Kohli lbw. Elgar said that it was a relief to see Kohli's back.
"It's massive for us and I think it's massive for India, knowing he is not batting. He's a very special batsman as we saw in the first innings and we knew it was a massive moment to get him out. But we all knew it was possible because he is human and he can also fail. I am sitting here with a smile on my face knowing there is one less very competitive, very talented guy that we don't have to deal with," he said.
"We need to get seven wickets somehow, we don't really care how. We just need to execute our processes. The wicket will play into our hands nicely with our seamers and Keshav Maharaj coming in on what is proving to be a decent spinning wicket. Our fast bowlers thrive on bowling on wickets like this. If they can get the ball to reverse as soon as possible it will be a massive asset," he signed off.
(With PTI Inputs)