I told myself last night to stay till the end: Elgar

Johannesburg, Jan 6 (PTI) Being the senior most batter, South African captain Dean Elgar said he took the responsibility to take his team over the line as he led from the front to ensure a famous seven-wicket win over India at the Wanderers here on Thursday.

The 34-year-old opener finished the match unbeaten on 96 off 188 balls, an innings spanning five hours and nine minutes, as they chased down 240 to level the three-match series.

“I said to myself I’m going to be there till the end as a senior batter, someone who’s been around for a long time. I needed to take the responsibility,” the skipper said in the post-match media interaction.

“It’s not always going to work out but today it worked out. It’s a highly stressful and intense series against the Indians.”

The left-hander took a lot of body blows and one Jasprit Bumrah beamer hit on his helmet grille on Wednesday but he remained calm and composed.

“Some may call it stupid, some may brave. I would like to see the latter. I’d like to see it as another influencing factor in our team.

“If I’m willing to put my body on the line, so should everyone else and it’s not in the mind. Playing for your country, you’re expected to do this, irrespective of how you are feeling and you need to focus on the bigger task at hand. That’s obviously to try and get the job done.”

After five and half hours lost in the day, the left-hander shepherded the innings beautifully and stood in two match-winning partnerships against the relentless Indian attack.

“It feels really special, firstly as a captain. I don’t play for accolades or personal milestones. I play for my teammates and winning.

“I’m not going to exclude them from their achievements, they’ve done throughout the last couple days. I think it means a hell of a lot for me when it comes to influencing our environment and leading from the front. It’s always something that I’ve liked to have done.

“Even as a schoolboy it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with lead from the front and I think it makes it a lot easier for guys to follow your footsteps and actually trust you. So I think in that respect, it goes a long way.”

Rating his innings at the top, he said: “This is right up there. Contributing in a big way in a win speaks a lot more than anything when it comes to personal gain or personal accolades.

“I was extremely glad as the captain that I could lead us over the line, which was a do or die kind of Test match for us. So I would say it was up there, maybe the top three influential innings that I’ve played.”

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. First and foremost, it’s a Test win for South Africa. We fought long and hard, pushing us to different levels these four days. The guys responded brilliantly. It’s great to accomplish another Test win.”

Elgar said the win would be a step in the right direction for the youngsters in the group.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. We still have a lot of challenging encounters coming our way. Even in the next Test we’re gonna have a lot of encounters where we’re going to be pushed to different boundaries and how the guys respond to that.

“But I’d like to think of this as a massive positive moving in the right direction. Yeah, I think it’s a confidence booster for a lot of our players within the squad. We’ve got relatively young and inexperienced guys. So yeah, I’d like to think it’s a move in the right direction,” he concluded.

The series-deciding Cape Town Test begins on Tuesday. PTI