Mohali: Dismissing the notion that the Mohali pitch was a vicious turner, South African skipper Hashim Amla on Saturday said there were more dismissals in the match due to lack of spin than excess of it and his batsmen could have applied themselves better.
South Africa managed 184 and 109 in the first and second innings respectively in the 108-run loss and Amla admitted that lack of application led to the batting failure.
"The chat that we had in our meetings was that the ball wasn't turning that much, actually. And I think a lot of dismissals actually in both teams, there were quite a few dismissals due to lack of turn more than due to excess of turn," Amla told reporters after conceding a 0-1 lead in the four match series.
"Sometimes those are the more difficult pitches to play on. In saying that, the chat was that the ball wasn't turning as much but there were a few errors in decision-making that kind of cost us a bit. We actually kept it as simple as possible, that it is not turning as much. If you get a good ball that turns, so be it.
"For a majority of the Test match, it was about trying to play the ball as straight as possible and if you manage to get a good one, so be it.
"I would agree that we could have applied ourselves a bit better. There were certain decisions that we made while batting that were not the right decisions," he said.
If the Indian spinner made a solid impact with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra bagging 19 wickets then opposition spinners in Imran Tahir, Simon Harmer and Dean Elgar also made an impact. India were bundled out for 201 and 200 in the first and second innings respectively and Amla took out positives from the bowling performance.
"Throughout this match, even though it was such a short Test match, I think we managed to hold our own right until the last innings here. They could easily have got away from us; with about 250-plus or 300-plus to get in the last innings, it would have been exceptionally difficult.
"The way we bowled and the way we kind of applied ourselves in the field and in the first innings with the bat was very good. Just very disappointing that we didn't manage to apply ourselves better and get closer to 200," he said.
Amla also insisted that they will be looking to learn from their mistakes in the upcoming matches.
"As I said earlier, if you look at the game right until the last innings, I think we kind of did pretty well. Kept the game pretty close to us and almost gave us the chance to win. If the wickets are the same, then hopefully we don't make the same mistakes and win the game.
Amla attributed the poor batting effort to error in judgement.
"I am putting it down to we made a few errors in judgement and nothing to look further than that. As a whole, we played exceptionally good cricket. I think other teams might have fell away a bit earlier in the Test match but we managed to hold the game and sadly we didn't follow through in the last innings."
Crediting the Indian bowlers for their effort, he said, "Credit to India, they bowled well. 200 on that wicket was a challenging target. Probably 150-160 would have been a really good kind of game to set up.
"Going into the next Test, whatever we are dealt with, I think we have prepared amply enough, just a few mistakes we made unfortunately in this game which cost us the game."
With Morne Morkel and JP Duminy missing out on the opening game to their respective injuries, Dale Steyn's groin strain that made him miss the second innings bowling is certainly a worry for the visitors. Amla admitted that Steyn's absence is always a problem.
"Not having Dale obviously is a difficult one because he is the best fast bowler in the world and certainly in the subcontinent the most successful fast bowler. So it would have been great to have him but listen, whatever you are dealt with, you get dealt with.
"Credit to Vernon (Philander) and KG (Kagiso Rabada), they did well and the spinners came good to restrict them to 200. So it is a blow not to have had Dale in the last innings and certainly missing Morne as well. Hopefully in the next Test, JP might be fit and a few dynamics might change of our team. And Dale might be fit to bowl again. So we will have to wait and see how it pans out with the injuries," he added.