Rishabh Pant | Reuters
Paarl: India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant on Friday said the team could have batted better and didn't get enough wickets in the middle overs during the second ODI against South Africa at the Boland Park on Friday.
Pant scored a career-best 85 but his effort went in vain as South Africa chased down 288 with 11 balls to spare and won the series with the final match in Cape Town on Sunday still to be played.
"I think we didn't get enough wickets in the middle overs, which they (South Africa) got. I think it was the main difference between both matches. But we could have played a little better or as a batting unit, we could have batted much more better in the middle overs. That's the turning point of the game I guess," said Pant while replying to a question from IANS in the virtual press conference.
Talking about the change in the nature of the pitch, Pant remarked, "I think the track was slightly on the slower side. But at the same time, I think we had enough runs on board in both the innings, last match we chased, and this one, we batted first, the wicket was much better. For batting in the second innings, it became slower and slower as the game progresses. Today, it was the same but they batted well in the middle overs. That's why they chased down the target today."
Pant also had a 115-run partnership with captain KL Rahul to lift India from 63/2 but felt they could have batted for more time. After Pant and Rahul fell, India slipped to 207/5 in 37 overs.
"The only plan we had was to build a partnership there and take the game deep as much as possible. I thought me and KL, we had a good partnership in the middle. If we could have carried on with that partnership for a little longer, I think we would have got 15 runs more than we got today. From a partnership point of view, we batted well, both of us."
The 24-year-old quashed concerns about senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's form after he conceded 67 runs in just eight overs for no wickets. "As a team, we are always looking to improve. But I don't think there is too much concern about Bhuvi bhai (Bhuvneshwar Kumar's form). We are playing an ODI series after a long time. So, we are just getting used to the momentum. We are disappointed after losing the series but at the same time, we are looking to learn from our mistake."
Pant pointed out that Shardul Thakur's batting returns and Venkatesh Iyer getting some overs with the ball has been a positive for India. "The way Shardul batted well down the order in both the matches, it is a positive for us. Also, the way Venky (Venkatesh Iyer) bowled for us today despite giving some more runs in one or two overs, there are a lot of positives that we can take as a team from this series."
Pant signed off by saying the South African spinners did better than their Indian counterparts due to being more consistent with line and length. "I think they were more consistent with their line and length. They are used to playing in these kinds of conditions and we are playing an ODI after a long time. There are lots of factors which we can talk about. As a team, we are looking to improve ourselves. Hopefully, we will improve upon this mistake in coming matches."