India have always thrived when playing in Indore, averaging 333 in their three limited overs innings at the Holkar Stadium before the start of Wednesday’s one day international against South Africa.
So when the Proteas managed to restrict them to 247/9 they backed themselves to get the job done and take a 2-0 series lead but instead the chase stalled and they fell short by 22 runs.
What made the loss that much tougher to take was the fact that batsmen got themselves out just when they had started to look settled at the crease.
Only one of the top seven has a real excuse for the manner in which they got out with David Miller – already under pressure due to a lack of runs in recent fixtures – the victim to arguably the delivery of the match as he nicked behind for a first ball duck.
“Unfortunately we didn’t bat well. We know we should have won that game,” a visibly disappointed De Villiers said afterwards before coming to the defence of Miller.
“David Miller has had a couple of not so good games but he had a really good World Cup which was only a few games ago. People shouldn’t be too harsh on him, he’s still an amazing player,” he said.
At the showpiece earlier this year, Miller averaged 64.8 with the bat, amassing 324 runs in seven innings and provided a heroic 49 off 18 balls in the semifinal against New Zealand at Eden Park.
But in seven limited overs innings since then the left-hander has found runs relatively hard to come by with a haul of 121 including a top score of 44 against Bangladesh in July.
“He’s still our go-to man,” De Villiers added before fronting up about the failings of the batting lineup as they were eventually skittles for 225 in the 44th over.
“Most of the dismissals I thought were pretty soft. We had great partnerships going up front and with that kind of experience up front we should be finishing off games. Responsibility has got to be on the batter’s shoulders – the top seven. It’s not nice to lose that way but I think quite a few lessons will be learnt.
“It’s up to the top seven to win games for us. Especially when we chase totals that we feel are a little below par. It’s up to the top seven to finish games like that,” added De Villiers.
The teams move on to Rajkot for the third of five games in the series on Sunday and De Villiers is hopeful of turning things around.
“We’ve got to learn from those mistakes but very important for us as a team to move on and put all our focus on the next ODI. It’s a massive game coming up.”