Vice-captain Rassie van der Dussen on Saturday said they are here to compete in the “traditional South African way” even though the team currently touring India lacks the firepower of the previous visiting outfits. The Proteas lost the second T20 International by seven wickets after the series opener was washed out. The new-look team will have a chance to draw level in the third and final game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday, which will be followed by a three-match Test series.
“We got a young squad now but we came here to compete in the traditional South African way, try hard, play hard,” Van der Dussen told reporters on the eve of the game.
“We have got young guys in the squad and we are not going to stand back for anyone. That’s the emphasis, results go your way or not, that’s sometimes you are not sure what’s going to happen. We knew it’s going to be tough, India is one of the strongest team in the world, and we know we are embracing their challenge.”
One of South Africa’s rare success stories from the ODI World Cup in England, van der Dussen said some of his teammates’ experience of playing here in the last Test tour will help the visitors in the upcoming engagements. “The last Test tour did not go well but the guys who were here have learnt a lot of lessons and we definitely are better prepared this time,” he said.
He was asked about his team’s challenge of bowling to India’s top three comprising skipper Virat Kohli, his deputy Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and he admitted that the task is very difficult. “They are probably three of the best T20 batters in the world and the world has ever seen. Virat and Rohit are the two leading run scorers at the moment in international T20 cricket.
“It’s a great challenge for young bowlers coming here and bowling to these guys. But like I said, we know what the challenge is. If we want to get a win, we have to nullify this kind of players.”
He said the team is missing the services of longs-serving leg-spinner Imran Tahir. “Imran Tahir is obviously massive for us. He has been so good, he has retired from one-day cricket so he is going to focus on T20 cricket, and we know he is a big weapon for us.
“The challenge for other bowlers is that we don’t have the luxury of a guy like that, who can come in and bowl four overs for 20, and maybe take one or two wickets.”
Van der Dussen scored 311 runs in the World Cup and showed composure in the face of constant criticism the team attracted for its poor showing. “It’s been an unbelievable 12 to 14 months for me. The challenge for me going forward would be to maintain the form that I have had and keep improving as a player and winning games for the team. That’s something I pride myself in.”
Asked about the team’s targets in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, he said the challenge is to learn the lessons quickly. “We have a young team. Guys are absolving and learning everything quickly. We have got some 18 more games leading to the T20 World Cup next year. The challenge for us is to learn those lessons very quickly and make sure in some years time, we are one of the top sides of the world.”