‘We’re ready for India’

South African players await a review decision during the test against Zimbabwe at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth this week
Picture: Werner Hills

Emphatic win over Zim enough practice for next week’s test – AB

The Proteas have had sufficient preparation heading into next week’s test against India in Cape Town despite the brevity of their match against Zimbabwe, stand-in captain AB de Villiers said.

De Villiers, who was holding the fort for out-of-sorts regular skipper Faf du Plessis, led South Africa to an emphatic innings and 120-run victory over the tourists at St George’s Park on Wednesday.

What was meant to be a four-day test morphed into a five-session day-night affair as Zimbabwe were blown away for just 68 and 121 in under two days in pursuit of South Africa’s only innings total of 309.

This was always going to be a warm-up for greater tests later this summer but, ideally, South Africa will have preferred another opportunity to bat with India on the horizon starting next Friday. But if they did, their captain was not saying so.

“We took a lot out of it,” De Villiers said. “It’s still a test match we played against opposition who obviously didn’t have a great game. “But they are still a class unit.

“They played well in recent times and I think they had the worst of the conditions last night batting on a pitch that really spiced up in the evening, and it was going to spice up again this evening.

“It could have been a bit of a different game had we bowled first. I still think we would have outclassed them but let’s not be too hard on them.

“They did run into a really quality bowling attack at night.”

Morne Morkel snorted fire as he grabbed five first-innings wickets, three of them in spiteful conditions under lights which reduced the hapless Zimbabweans to 30 for four overnight.

Keshav Maharaj then took five wickets of his own in the second innings to complete the rout.

“We still take a lot out of it. Our batters toiled really hard on a pitch that seamed around the entire innings. It sped up towards the evening and we started losing some wickets. “So the guys will take lessons from that.

“From a bowling point of view it was really nice to get them to follow on so that the guys got a few overs under the belt.

“Those are wickets you can’t really buy in the nets. All in all, a pretty good outing for us.

“Obviously, we’d like to get out there and still work hard before the Indian series, but I was pretty happy with the two days.”

Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak bemoaned a lack of test cricket and suggested his country should concentrate on competing with the white ball for now. “Maybe there is an argument for us to focus a lot more of our resources and time into short-format cricket to give ourselves more of a realistic chance of competing at a higher level rather than hanging around near the bottom of the table in both the test and one-day stuff,” Streak said.

He said newcomers Afghanistan and Ireland would be more realistic opponents if they were to play more tests.

“I think if you get a bit of context to the test rankings, with an incentive to get to the next level, with maybe a promotion-relegation type of thing, it’s worth looking at.

“Obviously we would like to play against the top countries, but maybe we could play them at home so we can set up the conditions to favour us.”

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