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Ken Borland

Elgar leads from the front to take Proteas to remarkable victory

Posted on February 07, 2022 by Ken

Dean Elgar underlined his value as a captain who not only leads from the front but demands the best from his players as he led South Africa to a remarkable seven-wicket win over India at the Wanderers on Thursday.

Elgar’s pride, bravery and determination were on full public display for over five hours in the second innings as his great innings of 96 not out ushered the Proteas to their target of 240 on a rapidly deteriorating pitch, the sixth highest run-chase in South Africa’s Test history, and coming against an attack many consider to be the best in the world.

But what was not revealed until after the game was Elgar’s courage in confronting his players, even someone like Kagiso Rabada, South Africa’s one unarguably world-class performer and almost akin to royal game in these sensitive days when the national coach is in the firing line for saying the wrong things when he was a player.

Elgar pressed his premier strike bowler’s buttons when he told him his performance was not up to scratch. Rabada might not have been enraged, but he responded with a rampant burst of three wickets in three overs on the third day that brought South Africa roaring back into the game.

“I don’t play for personal accolades, it’s always team over my own performance for me, but it does feel nice to contribute in a big way,” Elgar said after his heroic, series-levelling innings.

“My goal is always to influence the environment and lead from the front. It makes it easier then for the others in the changeroom to trust what you’re saying. It was more tough love than a rocket when I went to KG.

“I told him that he is immensely respected, but he was not conducting himself very well in terms of performance – he’s an incredible bowler when his tail is up. And he responds well to those chats, he goes away and thinks about it.

“He undersells his value in the team a bit, maybe he’s a bit too relaxed, but his contribution to the team is huge. The whole side was pushed to different levels and they responded brilliantly to certain requests I made,” Elgar said.

The captain himself may not be one of the most dazzling of batsmen, but he is certainly amongst the most trustworthy in the game when it comes to digging in and putting his body on the line.

“It’s a Test win for South Africa first and foremost, the team has fought long and hard for this sort of victory,” Elgar said. “I wasn’t looking at the end result today, I knew we had to start well in the first half-hour.

“We had to respect their areas but capitalise if there were loose deliveries, and we earned a few balls to put away. It didn’t feel like we had a lot to gain this afternoon, we might have lost four wickets and then we’d be in big trouble.

“But I said to myself that I had to be there at the end as a senior batsman and the captain. I’m glad it finished today because it was highly stressful and intense, you don’t expect anything else against India.

“They should stop hitting me now because I don’t get out! I draw on that pain, some call it stupid, some call it brave. But if I put my body on the line then others can be expected to do it too,” Elgar said.

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