CAPE TOWN: South Africa captain Faf Du Plessis was also left surprised by the selection of India batsman Rohit Sharma over Ajinkya Rahane in the first Test.
Another surprise call, according to the opposition skipper, was picking debutant Jasprit Bumrah ahead of seniors like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
“We were surprised yes. We didn t think that Jasprit Bumrah would have played. We know that he s done really well in one-day cricket but we were preparing more for the other seamers because they ve played a lot of Tests,” said du Plessis in the post-match media interaction here.
“I think the other guy was Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. He s been in a bit of form one-day cricket wise so they re probably just running with that, he said.
As for his own team, he faced a problem of plenty.
“The decision of picking a team was definitely the hardest I have been involved in. There is so much value in both scenarios. Playing seven batsmen that offer a bit more seam is a very good call.
“But I just thought, if you have Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Rabada that s four bowlers you cannot look past.
It’s a positive move. Yes, Dale hasn’t played a lot of cricket but the way he was bowling in the nets, and the way he bowled in the first innings, I think he was one of our best bowlers,” he added.
Du Plessis further said that they would have liked a total of 350 runs as the 208-run target made the hosts nervous at lunch time on day four.
The hosts won the first Test by 72 runs with Vernon Philander taking a career-best six for 42.
“I was nervous. I knew that the new ball was going to be key for us and that if we could get wickets with the new ball we feel like we can get through their batting line-up,” said du Plessis.
“Obviously they ve got a few quality players in there but once you can put a bit of pressure on them I thought we can get through them. But definitely I was very nervous.
“I came here this morning hoping to get a 350 lead and bowl to them tonight, so obviously that didn t go to plan.”
Chasing 208, India were bowled out for 135 in 42.4 overs.
Du Plessis was all praise for the Philander-led bowling attack.
“We ve got fantastic seam bowlers and if there s anything in the wicket, Vernon Philander and the other two guys are amazing. And if we had Dale Steyn there today, I reckon we would have rolled them out cheaper,” he said.
Philander led the three-man pace attack well in Dale Steyn s absence. The latter did bat but has been ruled out of the series with an ankle injury.
“If there s something in the wicket, Vernon is as good as you get around the world. What impressed me most today was he wanted to bowl overs. He didn t say after three or four overs That s enough .
“He wanted the ball and he wanted to make a plan, that s all you ask for from a senior player s point of view.”
Steyn did come out to bat but was seen limping with an injured heel.
“We said if by any chance AB is still there, Dale can just go and just stand there and hopefully AB can smash a few sixes. The plan wasn t to get him to bat and injure him more.