South Africa captain Dean Elgar has played down the praise for his match-winning heroics, preferring instead to reflect how beating India to win the second Test was a significant step forward for his young team.
Elgar scored an unbeaten 96, weathering a storm of hostile India bowling, to guide his side to a seven-wicket win at the Wanderers and square the series.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but we’ve fought long and hard for this,” the home skipper told a virtual news conference after the victory on Thursday.
“The last four days have pushed us to different levels within our team and the guys have responded brilliantly. It’s great to know that we’ve accomplished another Test win.”
Elgar, 34, took over last year as captain of a side in transition after the retirement of many top players like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, leaving a young replacement side to try to replace them.
“I’m always team over performance. I don’t play for accolades, I don’t play for the personal gain out of this game,” added Elgar.
“I play for my teammates and winning. Luck was on my side as I was the person that’s got us over the line.
“It’s a nice feeling knowing that you’ve contributed in a big way. I think it means a hell of a lot for me when it comes to influencing our environment and leading from the front.
“I think it makes it a lot easier for guys to follow you and actually trust what you’re saying in the change room.”
But Elgar said it might be too early to suggest this was the start of a new era after a run of disappointing Test results for South Africa.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction. Look, we’re still going to have a lot of challenging encounters coming our way. Even in the next Test, we’re going to be pushed to different boundaries, and it’s how the guys respond to that.
“But I’d like to think this Test win is a massive positive, moving in the right direction.
“I think it’s a confidence booster for a lot of our players within the squad, because we’ve got relatively young and inexperienced guys who haven’t been around Test cricket for long.”
The series decider is in Cape Town, starting on Tuesday.