Mohali: South Africa may have bundled out India for 201 on the opening day of the first cricket Test, but wrecker-in-chief Dean Elgar on Thursday criticised the turf and said it is a bad cricketing wicket even if it is result-oriented.
Elgar, who took four wickets to stop the hosts from taking away the advantage after electing to bat, also stood firm with skipper Hashim Amla when stumps were drawn on the opening day.
The Proteas were 28 for two, trailing India by 173 runs and Elgar believes the match can spin either way.
"I don't think it's a very good cricket wicket. It is my personal opinion. It is a result wicket which is expected when you come here. But Kudos to India, they are obviously going to prepare wickets like these against us, I'm sure. And we know coming here, it was going to be very different from what we are used to. So it's not a very good cricket wicket but it is a result wicket which can go either way," said a blunt Elgar after the end of the day's play.
Elgar, who turned an unlikely hero with impressive figures of 4-22, conceded that he was surprised by his own performance.
"I'm a little bit surprised with the outcome. Taking four wickets obviously and batting decently. I've always had the ability to bowl. I'm not only a batter. But yeah it was nice to contribute and it's a wicket that is assisting the spinners a little bit and it was nice to obviously bowl India out with the other four bowlers and put them on the backfoot," he said.
Elgar (13 not out) and Amla (9 not out) did the grinding bit in a tense final half-hour of play against the Indian spinners and the South African opener said it is going to be tough for a batsmen on this pitch.
"It wasn't easy. We sort of expected it to play like that but we didn't expect it to crumble as what it has already. It was hard graft. It was right up there with the hardest ever Test cricket I've had. It was hard work and we can see that the Indians are used to putting the opposition under pressure when their tails are up. Let's hope that it can backfire and turn out to be a great victory for you," he said.
Elgar also agreed with Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar's perception that on this surface the total put up by the home team was bigger than what it actually looks.
"I would say that. It is just because of the nature of the wicket. The outfield is another thing. It is fast but it is difficult to generate pace on the ball while batting and its definitely going to be a challenge for us. It's going to be a hard graft. We knew that. We knew that coming to India will be a challenge in its own right. Now we have to find a way and graft and sweat it out," he said.
Elgar said the way forward is to be positive in one's mindset.
"The way forward is to be positive. Tonight we obviously had to go into our shells and fight a bit. It's generally not the way we play our cricket. To try and lose as few wickets as possible. So that we can set up our day 2," he opined.
The left-hander though smiled back after being asked about feeling tired post a hard day's work and said, "No I'm fresh. Fresh as a daisy (laughs). It obviously takes a toll on you. I was out there for 90 overs which is quite taxing most days. Luckily its not so hot here in Mohali, which we are thankful for. But physically, I'm okay. It is just the day one and you got to kick on and rest well tonight.