Hashim Amla felt 200 would have been a gettable score in the last innings © AFP
Hashim Amla felt 200 would have been a gettable score in the last innings © AFP

By S S Ramaswamy

Nagpur: Complimenting India for sealing the four-Test rubber with a 124-run victory on a spin-friendly track in the third Test, South Africa captain Hashim Amla said these were the “toughest conditions he had ever experienced” in his career. “Probably these are the toughest I have experienced in my Test career. The surface was probably the toughest I have had as well, and the cricket itself was really difficult. So credit to India, they kind of bowled well and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side of this game,” said Amla at the post-match media conference. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs South Africa 2015, 3rd Test at Nagpur

Chasing a formidable target of 310, South Africa folded up for 185 and the game ended 52 minutes after tea on day three. Amla felt 200 would have been a gettable score in the last innings. “I would think chasing 200 would have been a more apt [target]. If I look at their first innings they were about 30 runs too much [if] our bowling was better, and even the second innings, I’ll be very honest with you, I don’t think it was a 220 first innings wicket and neither was it a 170 [wicket]. We could have got India out for 140 and that probably would have changed the complexion of the game,” he said. Virat Kohli: Can’t produce bowlers playing on 500-run pitches

India made 215 after tottering at 125 for six and then bowled out the visitors for a paltry 79, the lowest score made by any team in the country. Amla, who had a great record in earlier visits to the country, made the joint highest score of their second innings, 39, along with another out-of-form batsman Faf du Plessis. He pointed out that like the South Africans, even Indian batsmen have struggled in this Test series.

“As I said, if you look at both teams, would the same criticism be for the Indian team? That’s an important point for me, to take into consideration. I don’t think many guys would say that Virat and Murali Vijay are not good players of spin. Obviously they are very good players of spin, but in this series so far they have also managed to find some difficulty. The quality of the Indian spinners, certainly exceptional in these conditions, and you’ve got to give it to them.”

Amla also expressed disappointment as the visitors’ enviable nine-year unbeaten Test record away from home ended. “Yeah, it’s very disappointing. Fortunately, throughout my career, we’ve been travelling away and managing to play very good cricket. I suppose one kind of consolation would be that the conditions we’ve had to play were probably never like we’ve had when we’ve played away from home, and that type of challenge we’ve never experienced before.

“Just thinking back to when I first started, South Africa as a team almost looked very similar to what it is at the moment. We had some really great players in Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith who were probably at their prime at that stage, with some young guns who were coming into the team. I think it was myself and then AB de Villiers was around, and I think at the moment our team is similar to that, we’re breeding a few younger guys coming in.”

“But to play in conditions like this [is difficult]. I haven’t played on this before in my life, anywhere in the world, so I suppose it’s a bit of consolation, because it was really challenging, and you never know, if we had come on to this before, what would have happened. But it is very disappointing to lose a series, away from home, after nine years, and to be part of it, and I hope it doesn’t happen again for us.”

But he refused to comment on the pitch where Vijay’s first innings 40 emerged as the highest score from either side. “It’s difficult for me to comment, to be honest with you, especially being on the losing side, so I will have to try and reserve my comments if that’s okay with you. As I mentioned to the gentleman there, it’s difficult for us to answer that, being on the losing side, but whether you win or lose, as a South African team the way we fought today, you want to lose honourably and you want to win honourably. So I can’t comment too much on the wickets and things like that, just leave it at that.”

He did not agree with Ashwin’s view yesterday that the pitch had slowed down. “No, it definitely got more difficult to bat, I think from day one to day three, it got progressively worse. That’s just what it was.” He also said his side did not take its chances and bowled India out cheaper than they did in the first innings. “Yeah, maybe we could have got them all out cheaper in the first innings and we just needed about 60 or 70 more in our innings (than 79 all out). That could have put us in a better situation to win the game.”