South Africa had prepared for a spin onslaught in India but their batsmen were left flummoxed by the hosts’ seam attack, captain Faf du Plessis said after his side’s 3-0 defeat in a test series that concluded on Tuesday.
India’s fast bowlers, rarely expected to make a mark on docile surfaces at home, picked up 26 wickets in the three tests with their spin-bowling colleagues accounting for 32.
That is a significantly higher haul than the eight wickets they claimed versus the spinners’ 61 scalps when South Africa toured in 2015 for a four-test series, which the hosts won 3-0.
“Obviously we spoke about this before the series, the mindset coming here, specially after 2015 was, prepare yourself for a lot of spinning tracks,” du Plessis said at the presentation after India won by an innings and 202 runs in the last test held in the eastern city of Ranchi.
“And it’s been the opposite, it’s actually been really good cricket wickets. A lot in it for the bowlers, a lot in it for the batters, so fantastic test cricket to be played.
“And the Indian seam attack was tremendous. Right through the series, relentless and they showed us how to consistently bowl line and length.”
South Africa’s batsmen, who grow up playing on hard and bouncy pitches and are considered more adept at playing fast bowling, looked at sea against the Indian pair of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Du Plessis lauded the duo for their consistency, something he said the fast bowlers in his side lacked during the series.
“I think it’s the nature of the skill of the bowlers,” the 35-year-old added.
“If you look at the guys who are successful, especially from their seam attack, it’s the skiddy nature of how they bowl. But it’s that area that they hit the whole time.
“They hit the top of the stumps relentlessly, and the ball generates pace, sometimes it squats down, a little bit low, but they hit the stumps all the time.”
South Africa posted 431 in their first innings in the opening test at Visakhapatnam against India, but crossed the 200-run mark only once in their remaining five innings.
“That’s the frustrating part of the tour for us. Starting that first sitting there were some real good signs of things potentially to come, but it went the other way,” du Plessis said. “Every test match we played we made bit more mistakes.”