South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has blamed lack of substantial partnerships as the main reason behind his side's six-wicket loss to India in the opening ODI of the six-match series. Du Plessis feels the hosts were 60 runs short after electing to bat first on a Durban surface that progressively quickened up.
Du Plessis scored a classy 120 yesterday, his ninth ODI hundred, but did not get required support from the other end as Indian wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal strangled South African batsmen in the middle overs.
"We didn't bat well today. As a batting unit, for the second top score to be 30 or 40 shows that there weren't partnerships. The most basic thing about ODI cricket is two guys getting together and putting some sort of partnership together," Du Plessis said at the post-match press briefing.
"I thought the Indian spinners bowled well but still we should have been better today against them.
"I certainly think we needed 300. 260 odd wasn't enough on that deck. The last two games we played here, we got more runs and won. We chased 370 here against Australia. So, I think it's unfair to say to the bowlers that they were poor. I thought purely we didn't have runs. If we had got 60-70 more, it would have been easier for our bowlers," he added.
Yadav and his fellow spinner Chahal shared five wickets between them to restrict South Africa to 269 for 8, a target which India overwhelmed with six wickets in hand to take a 1-0 lead in the six-match ODI series.
Yadav finished with 3 for 34 in 10 overs and was easily the pick of the India bowlers. He bamboozled the South African batsmen with his craft and removed JP Duminy, David Miller and Chris Morris to star in the win.
Du Plessis said the way Yadav and Chahal bowled last night, it shows ODI cricket is slowly tilting in favour of wrist spinners.
The Protea skipper said both the Indian spinners brought in a surprise element for his batsmen, which was difficult to handle in one go.
"It shows that in white-ball cricket the game is moving towards wrist-spinners, because they have the ability to pick up wickets and that's what they (Yadav and Chahal) did today," Du Plessis said.
"We'll have a good discussion after this game and hopefully in the second game we'll play them better. It's been a bad day at the office for us. So we need to quickly learn from the mistakes. It's a very long series, so it's important that we refocus for the next game," he added.
Asked about the surprise element of the two Indian wrist spinners, Du Plessis said, "When we saw their team we knew they were going to bowl spin early to us. Obviously they have got another off-spinner as well.
"From a batting point of view, quite a few guys haven't faced their spinners, so it will take one or two games for them to get used to it.
Some of the guys played against these guys in the IPL but not all of them faced them recently."
"With mystery spin or wrist spin, it takes one or two games just to get used to the guys' actions and their wrists, then hopefully you get better at playing them," he said.
Du Plessis' century was the lone bright spot in South Africa's batting display yesterday as Yadav and Chahal picked up wickets in the middle overs to put pressure on the hosts.
"India is at their best when they can put pressure on you with their spinners and today they did that and slowed the game down. They got wickets through the middle period. If you can get wickets through the middle period, you will win a lot of one-day games," he said.
Du Plessis' Indian counterpart Virat Kohli (112) also slammed a century, his 33rd ODI hundred, but that came in a winning cause.
"He's (Kohli) very good. You know when it comes to chasing he is the main man that you need to get. He is a very good controller of the tempo of the innings. He has obviously done it a lot so he is experienced. He knows when to pull and when to push," Du Plessis said.
"So we know, just as in the Tests, he is the backbone. If we get him, you put pressure on them. If he is there, they're going to have opportunities of putting pressure on us."
Defending the total, Imran Tahir failed to put any pressure on the Indian batsmen yesterday but Du Plessis backed the leg-spinner to come good in the next match.
"Generally if you put a good total in the first innings you could put pressure on the opposition. But because we had a below par score and the ball was just skidding off the deck, even Imran wasn't getting any spin," the skipper said.
"Chasing 5 runs per over was very easy. The only way we could get some pressure on the opposition was if you can get 3 or 4 wickets in the first 10 overs but we couldn't do that.
"If Imran bowls well for us then he's our wicket-taker in the middle. India played him really well. Imran generally doesn't go 2 or 3 games without wickets, so I'll be very surprised if in the next game he doesn't bowl really well," Du Plessis signed off.