Before the start of India's ODI series against South Africa, a major talking point was how the hosts were able to field an entirely competitive squad despite the first-choice players flying early to Australia to prepare for the T20 World Cup.
South Africa, on the other hand, fielded their main squad for the series which carried huge importance for direct qualification in next year's ODI World Cup.Now, after the 2-1 ODI series loss, which has made things difficult for them to get a direct qualification, head coach Mark Boucher admitted that fielding two different teams for two white-ball formats could have been better.
"In a perfect world, yes. It took us some time to get used to conditions (in India), we didn't arrive early enough. The Indian side we played against were fresh; they were bouncing around. Our guys were fatigued.
But it's also difficult because we don't have the depth India does. We also had pressure to try and win every game. So we decided to stick with the squad we thought could win games. But in hindsight it could have been a better option," said Boucher in the post-match press conference.
In Tuesday's ODI series decider, where they missed Temba Bavuma, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi due to illness, South Africa were shot out for just 99 in 27.1 overs, their lowest ODI score against India, at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi.
Barring Heinrich Klaasen and Janneman Malan to some extent, none of the batters were able to put a price on their wicket and fell either to the brilliance of India's bowling attack or caused their own downfall.
"With the schedule that we've had you can't expect the players to be up for every single game. That's when you rely on your technical side and your mental side to pull you through. We've been a little bit weak in both those departments.
"(In the match) especially there were a couple of soft dismissals up front and maybe one or two technical things on a pitch that was uneven in its turn one turned, one didn't and we were found out there."I allude back to keeping the players fresh so that the mental part of their game is right up there along with the technical side.
I think then we can get the best results from these players," stated Boucher, who will step down as South Africa's head coach after the end of T20 World Cup in Australia.South Africa, now ranked 11th in ODI World Cup Super League points table, have now got only five matches three against England in January and two against the Netherlands in March at home to make a serious push for the direct qualification and avoid taking the World Cup qualifiers route.
But the path to winning all of them, let alone emerging victorious in three of those matches, isn't as straightforward as it looks. ODIs against England are happening when the inaugural SA20 will be on while the 50-over matches against the Netherlands may have a clash with 2023 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"That's not ideal. The reason we are in this situation is that we haven't always had continuity in our one-day team, and there's been various reasons for that players leaving to come to the IPL and Covid. The guys will know what's required against the Netherlands and England."
"We've got to win those games, and if we don't we've got to accept the fact that we've got to go and qualify for the next World Cup. We understand the situation we're in and we'll have to man up and face it when it comes our way," concluded Boucher.