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Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Picture: MATTHEW LEWIS/ICC via GETTY IMAGES
Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Picture: MATTHEW LEWIS/ICC via GETTY IMAGES

Losing top order batter Aiden Markram for the 2-2 drawn five-match series against India was a major blow for the team, says Proteas coach Mark Boucher.

SA were forced to play without in-form Markram, who is the third-ranked batsman on the ICC T20 rankings, after he tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in India and had to undergo mandatory quarantine.

The Proteas started on a promising note with back-to-back wins in Delhi and Cuttack but allowed India to claw their way back into the series with wins of their own in Vizag and Rajkot.

The fifth and deciding match in Bengaluru was abandoned due to rain on Sunday as the teams shared the honours with Boucher saying the South Africans learned much from the series.

“There are plenty lessons that we can take,” he said.

“It was tough losing Aiden Markram before we even started the first game. It put us under a bit of pressure because we wanted to play six batters, with Aiden being our sixth bowling option but we couldn’t do that. You come to India on the back of an IPL [Indian Premier League] with a lot of their players in good form having played a lot of cricket in these conditions, but I’ll take 2-2.”

Boucher admitted they were not up to their own standards at times. “We didn’t play our best cricket. It was tough on the IPL players who stayed throughout the whole tournament and had to come to India on a back-to-back tour.

“Mentally the guys were a little tired. They’ll enjoy the break now but there were a lot of lessons, especially in a World Cup year where we can look at and see if we can plug a few gaps going to Australia in different conditions.

“We had periods in the series where we played really well and we can take a lot of learning from that. It is just the confidence that players can take, it is tough coming from SA to play against India.

“I know a lot of their top players were not here but Indian cricket has a lot of depth at the moment largely due to the IPL. We played a couple of good games and we played two bad games and there are a couple of reasons for that but you can’t read too much into it.”

Boucher indicated there would be a new approach for the World Cup in Australia to be played under different conditions.

“Our plans will probably change when we go to Australia. That is something we are aware of but obviously this is what was put on our plate and we had to take whatever we could and try a few options in these conditions and see if they work or not.

“We have asked a few questions on this tour and we got some good answers. Up front our batting, we struggled in a few games to get going and we speak about it after every game to see how we can change our mindset and intent.

“Especially in the third game, I thought we didn’t bat with intent that was needed. Our bowling at certain stages was very good and at certain stages we looked a bit rusty.

“I understand that, we’ve got a couple of guys coming from the IPL and maybe a little tired and a couple of guys coming from injuries and some of the guys have been sitting on the sidelines.

“Losing Aiden was a massive loss for us, but in saying that we came up against some quality bowling. I think Bhuvneshwar Kumar was special in this series.

“He put us under pressure throughout the whole series, barring one game where we got a good start. That’s probably where they dominated us with the ball in power plays.”


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