As soon as he dabbed Ravindra Jadeja towards point, Faf du Plessis set off immediately, saying “yes”, signalling partner AB de Villiers for a single. Hardik Pandya swiftly sent the throw down to MS Dhoni, who brushed off the bails even as de Villiers threw himself forward to complete the run.
Five balls later, du Plessis found was involved in another run-out – this time with David Miller. Both batsmen found themselves at the same end after du Plessis responded to Miller’s call for a single, but quickly turned back to make his crease, leaving his partner in an embarrassing position. Those two run-outs were the “turning points” of the match which South Africa went on to lose by eight wickets, according to India captain Virat Kohli.
Du Plessis was apologetic after the defeat and owned up to the fact that his call for a run with de Villiers was not wise. “I take full responsibility for AB’s run-out,” du Plessis said at the media briefing. “That’s my fault. Obviously he [de Villiers] is a big player for us and he was looking good and it was a crunch time in the game. Big mistake from my part running AB out.”
Asked if he ventured running for a single that another batsman would, perhaps, avoid, de Villiers said he simply responded to du Plessis’ call. “You see, I just tried to take a one with my partner out there and it didn’t work. I wasn’t searching for runs, I wasn’t even facing. So I wouldn’t say it like that. There was a call out there, and I thought we could get through for the one.”
According to du Plessis, India’s bowlers and fielders were mounting pressure quickly and with The Oval packed with fans, mostly Indian supporters, it was difficult to hear the calls in the cacophony. He conceded, however, that nothing could absolve him of his “error in judgment” which resulted in de Villiers’ wicket.
“I suppose, after that moment, Dave [de Villiers] came in and we discussed that it is extremely loud out there and difficult to hear each other so the communication between the two of us was just for the next five overs, just play it as risk free as possible. Try and get the partnership going in, settle the partnership because the last thing you want to do is go wicket, wicket,” he said. “And then two or three balls later, obviously a miscommunication, and then Dave came down and ran. Not a great sight to see two guys standing in the crease.”
Du Plessis said the run-outs distracted him from trying to focus on batting. Failing to read a slower ball from Pandya, du Plessis chopped on and lost his off stump for 36 runs. Within five overs, South Africa’s three most dangerous batsmen were back in the dressing room.
Du Plessis summed up the day as an “average” one for South Africa and gave credit to India to force the mistakes. “That five overs, in a game like today, five overs like that is very, very big,” du Plessis said. “You either settle and get through the pressure. Or you absorb it or you don’t and we didn’t absorb those five overs. I thought India bowled well in the first 10 overs, there was an opportunity there for us to maybe put them under pressure which we didn’t do. It was a day where possibly India dominated us in all aspects and it shouldn’t happen.”
He also pointed out that no amount of experience counts in such moments. “When India were batting they took the pressure, created momentum and then just ran with it. We had a similar opportunity where it was needed for someone, or, two guys to just put the pressure back on the Indian team and you run with it. We didn’t do that today. They put us under pressure and we made mistakes and we couldn’t get out of it.”
According to Kohli, India were confident of restricting South Africa to a modest target once they had sent back de Villiers and du Plessis. “I think his [de Villiers’] run-out could be the turning point. And David Miller’s [too]. He is a very dangerous player as well. They can drag the team up to 260, 270 from any sort of situations. Those two run-outs were the turning point today.”