‘At 12 for 3, it was not the best feeling as a batting coach. I was thinking of taking an Uber and leaving for the hotel’
‘The genius of AB and tenacity of Faf changed the momentum of the game’
South Africa’s batting coach Dale Benkenstein credited AB de Villiers for changing the momentum as South Africa put up 286, after tottering at 12 for 3, on the opening day of the first Test against India, in Cape Town, on Friday.
"At 12 for 3, it was not the best feeling as a batting coach. I was thinking of taking an Uber and leaving for the hotel, because I didn't know how we were going to score runs on this wicket," Benkenstein said, after the day's play.
"They (India) are a quality bowling attack. The class and genius of AB and the tenacity of our captain (Faf du Plessis) changed the momentum of the game, or rather that innings (from AB)," said Benkenstein.
"That one over (when de Villiers score 17 runs off Bhuvneshwar) was a game-changer. It was definitely the genius of AB. You cannot tell him how to bat as a coach. It made the bowlers worry about their lengths and that partnership of 100 runs got us back in the game. It brought belief back in the change room."
South Africa were then reduced to 142 for 5, but the lower middle order also contributed well.
"It was a tough decision to bat first. Conditions were such that we would have liked to play an extra batsman. With AB and Faf back, we had our top six batsmen, so we wanted to go with our best bowling attack. As a group we felt this was the best team," said the former middle-order batsman.
"I am always encouraging our bowlers to bat well. I tell them that three of them are our all-rounders. Most of them can actually bat. And it was really vital that the runs they scored helped us. It is encouraging to have a game plan for such situations. Those runs will give us a cushion later in the game," he added.
On comeback man Dale Steyn, Benkenstein said: "Steyn bowled beautifully. He has done a lot of hard work to get fit and come back. That one wicket will do wonders for him. His pace was up to what he normally bowls with new ball and he will probably crank it up with older ball.
"Hopefully, he will stay fit and his body will hold through this series. From a mental point of view, that was a massive four overs he bowled and it is a huge benefit for us."