Pacer Andile Phehlukwayo said on Monday that South African batsmen will go into the fifth ODI as a more confident unit, having learnt from their mistakes against the Indian spinners.
For the first time in the series, the Indian wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav took a beating and proved to be expensive in the fourth ODI.
“We have a good momentum now from the last game we played. We have come really far in that victory because the guys have been working really hard in the nets and we have been very specific about our training (against spin),” said Phehlukwayo.
“(In the last game) we were looking to be positive. We got into good positions and tried to pick the ball, watch the ball and played really straight,” he added.
The pitch for this fifth ODI bore a brownish look on Monday, resembling more the wicket in Durban for the first ODI than Wanderers. Historically, this pitch helps spinners more.
“We have been doing good analysis and have good game plans. Obviously the conditions were different (at Wanderers). So its a game plan that we have had in our change room, to be really positive, look to score and get into good positions,” he said.
“You don’t want to worry too much about what they do but what you do as a team. Once again it’s a new game. So you just want to take the new stuff and back yourself. When I say change in game plan, I am also being specific about mentally. We know about the wicket, its home conditions and we know how to go about it,” said Phehlukwayo.
India have a poor record at St. Georges Park. Since 1992, they have lost all five ODIs they have played here. More than that, the Men in Blue have never scored 200 runs in an innings at this venue, which doesn’t bode well given the frailty of the Indian middle order.
“If you take game by game, obviously they’ve been batting really well,” the all-rounder said.
“It would be really nice to expose their middle order and hopefully see what they can do. At the same time we don’t want to really look too forward. The Proteas setup is really positive. We’ve got a good fighting spirit a good culture. It’s never done and out. We’re always looking to fight back. We really are encouraging around the change room. And as I said, we weren’t far away from a victory,” he added.
Phehlukwayo forms a key role in the South African team with both bat and ball. Talking about his promotion up the order ahead of Chris Morris in the previous game, he explained: “It is a left-hand right-hand thing. If David Miller gets out, I’m a left-hander so I had to go out to keep the combination. I was told to look be really positive, watch the ball and execute my game plans.”
About his bowling in the death, he said: “When bowling to someone like MS Dhoni, I was just personally trying to hit top of off-stump. Hit a hard length as hard as I can. Try to get a few dot balls.”
On the batting front, Phehlukwayo said he has learnt playing spin by following the likes of Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock.