AB de Villiers has praised Morne Morkel for battling through a sore leg to help South Africa win the third ODI against India on Sunday.
The Proteas took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series after winning the third game by 18 runs after successfully defending 270. Morkel played a big part, taking 4-39 in 10 overs to help swing the match in his team’s favour.
‘Morne came to me after he bowled six overs and said to me he’s got a bit of a sore leg, I might have to get his overs out of the way,’ De Villiers explained after the game.
‘He bowled so well in that return spell that I had to keep him for one more at the end there. He showed a lot of guts and determination to get through that spell. It would have been a very easy decision for him to just go off the field and call it a day but he pulled through for the boys and he bowled exceptionally well with a sore leg in his last four overs. It turned the game on it’s head.’
De Villiers praised the character of his team even though he wasn’t happy with the fielding effort they put in.
‘We fielded very poorly throughout the innings; dropped a few catches and missed a few run-outs. I thought the boys showed amazing character. We have done so this whole tour so far. It’s key in the game that we play. You can’t ever give up.
‘It’s something I reiterate in team meetings and on the field. I had a few hard chats with the boys in the field because I didn’t think we started really well with the ball in hand. But we never gave up and you could see the passion and the drive that we had in the last 15 overs. It was amazing.’
It was felt that South Africa’s score was about 30 runs short of a good total, but De Villiers disagreed.
‘I thought 250 was a par score. I thought after 30 overs that if we get to 250 it will be a really good score to defend on this wicket,’ he said.
‘We got to 270 and I was pretty comfortable with that. I always knew the first 20 overs with the ball would be difficult, but what happens in India is the game speeds up towards the end and it proved to be exactly like that in this game.’
Quinton de Kock scored his first hundred since November 2014 and his first score of fifty or more since the World Cup and was the main reason South Africa managed to get to 270.
‘I thought he [De Kock] answered a lot of questions. He is a unique player with an immense amount of talent and I love to have him in the side.
‘It’s very nice to have him back and doing his thing with the bat and the gloves. I thought he played exceptionally well against the spin and against the seam. He paced his innings very well and played a mature knock.’