South Africa coach Rob Walter heaped praise on India, calling them a ‘hell of a team’, ‘very balanced’ and ‘highly skilled’ after the visitors received a 243-run thrashing from the hosts’ in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup league match at the Eden Gardens.
Propelled by birthday boy Virat Kohli’s 49th ODI century, putting him equal with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, along with a fine 77 from Shreyas Iyer, India posted 326/5 after electing to bat first. In reply, Ravindra Jadeja took 5-33 as South Africa were bowled out for 83 in 27.1 overs.
“I mean, they’re a hell of a team. And very well balanced and highly skilled. There’s no way around it. They’ve won every game and they’ve won it well. You have to believe that on a day if you execute your skills, you’ve also got a chance and we just didn’t (do it) right from the word go,” said Walter in the post-match press conference.
South Africa and India are the only teams to have entered the semifinals so far. Walter believes South Africa have the ability to reverse the tables if they meet India again in the knockouts.
“We know already what Marco Jansen can do with a new ball, today was an off day, the guy’s a young guy playing in a World Cup, he’s played seven excellent games to point and didn’t have a great start today and could just as easily bowl very well the next time we find ourselves against him if we’re able to.”
“So, this game is a funny game and you get taught new lessons every single day and get surprised every single day. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if the tables turned the next time around. The beauty of it is that there may well be another shot for us and we’ve been given an opportunity to learn from that.”
Jansen, the left-arm fast-bowling all-rounder, conceded 94 runs in his wayward spell, also the most expensive figures for a South Africa bowler in Men’s ODI World Cup history. But Walter backed him to bounce back and be good for South Africa in the rest of the competition.
“It’s a gift. Being able to run out in front of 75,000 (the official attendance was 58,000) in a game like this, there are so many learning opportunities out there. It was just an opportunity to play against a really good team and he struggled today but he’s got the skillset to bounce back and be effective the next time around.”
“What he does have now is the value of having already run out, competed, and felt what it’s like to be in a cauldron with 70,000 people cheering against you. And to have that as experience is invaluable. You can’t get that anywhere else but here.”
“If you walk into that changing room now, you’re going to find a group of guys highly disappointed that we weren’t able to pay tribute to what was an awesome occasion and a great opportunity for us to showcase our skill. We played so well throughout this entire World Cup and we would have wanted nothing more than this to be a great contest,” he concluded.