South Africa head coach Mark Boucher lavished praise on senior India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for being outstanding with the ball throughout the series and keeping the visitors under pressure in power-play phase.
After rain in the series decider at Bengaluru on Sunday forced India and South Africa to share the series 2-2, Bhuvneshwar was adjudged Player of the Series for picking wickets in four matches at an average of 14.16 and a strike rate of 10.4, with an electrifying spell of 4/13 at Cuttack in a losing cause his best effort in the series.
"We came up against some quality bowling. Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) was exceptional in this whole series. He put us under pressure in the Powerplays. Barring one game, that's an area that India dominated us in, with both bat and ball over our players and that's something we will definitely look into and try and improve," said Boucher after the match.
Boucher admitted that South Africa needed to find ways of improving their batting in the first six overs while conceding that playing successive matches was challenging for his side. "Up front, with our batting (the way we battled). We struggled in quite a few of the games to get going. We speak about it after every game and change out mindset, especially in the third game. We didn't go in and bat with the intent we needed."
"Our bowling at certain stages was very good. And on certain occasions, we looked a little bit rusty. I sort of understand that as we had some guys coming in on the back of the IPL and were tired, some guys coming off big injuries; some guys were sitting on sidelines in the IPL and were not playing games. So, finding your feet in back-to-back games is challenging."
Even before the first ball of the series had been bowled, South Africa suffered a huge blow in Aiden Markram being ruled out due to contracting Covid-19. Despite having to shuffle the batting order in absence of Markram, Boucher was pleased with South Africa keeping their record intact of not losing a limited-overs series in India since 2011.
"We didn't play our best cricket; it was tough on IPL players to tour India back-to-back. It was tough on them mentally, but they will enjoy the break. But a lot of lessons, especially in a World Cup year where we can still see if we can plug a few gaps going to Australia. You don't just rock up in India and expect to win. We've asked a few questions on this tour, and we've got some good answers.
"There are plenty of lessons we can take (from this result). It was tough losing Aiden Markram before we even started the first game. It put us under pressure. We wanted to play six batters, with Aiden also being our sixth bowling option. But we couldn't do that. You come to India off the back of an IPL season. A lot of their players are in good form. They've played a lot of cricket in these conditions. I'll take two-all."