Rohit and 'biggest' triumph
Calcutta: Vice-captain Rohit Sharma has termed India's series win as the "biggest overseas ODI triumph".
India won the fifth ODI by 73 runs in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday night to grab an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match series. The last game is scheduled for February 16 in Centurion.
"Absolutely, I think this is the biggest overseas victory (in ODIs). This is a good win because this was a bilateral series. Before this, we won the CB tri-series2 in Australia (2007-08). Even that series was quite tough," Rohit, who starred with a 115-run knock on Tuesday, said.
"For me, it is difficult to compare the two. I think this series means a lot to us. The way we played from the first game, we have dominated the series, and the result is there for all to see," he added.
The Indian team also cemented their position at the top of the ODI rankings.
Rohit said the tough conditions, coupled with the fact that his team clearly dominated, made the victory a special one. "This will be right up there. After 25 years we have won a series in South Africa. It is not the easiest place to play cricket, definitely not the easiest place to win a series. I think a lot of credit goes to the boys," he said.
"Everybody who got an opportunity put his hand up and took up the challenge. If you look at the entire ODI series, it was a dominant performance for us.
"It will only give us confidence as a team to go outside and keep winning those series," he added.
Rohit felt the Test series, which the visitors lost 1-2, was not a one-sided affair either.
"The Test series was very close, I believe. It could have gone either way. Anyway, we are very proud of our performance and very proud of what we achieved in the ODIs," he said.
On the personal front, Rohit was glad that his return to form coincided with his team's triumph. He had scored only 40 runs in the first four games.
"I got out cheaply in three matches only, how can you say form is bad after three matches? You guys put people in good form after one match, and if somebody doesn't have three good matches, you say he is in bad form," Rohit quipped.
"In 2013 it was different. I had just turned into an opener from a middle-order batsman. The way I am batting now, it has evolved a lot.
"Whatever happened before 2013 and in 2013, forget about that," he added, referring to his poor past record in South Africa.
Rohit said it was just not fair to declare anybody a failure or success on the basis of two or three performances.
"I admit the first three-matches weren't great but that happens with everybody.
"But I was in a good frame of mind, I was batting well in the nets and there was no pattern to my dismissals. That happens in every cricketer's career," he added.
"My hundred has gone now and in the next game I play, the hundred I scored isn't going to matter much. So it is important to stay in the present and this is what we talk about in our dressing room.
"If you trust your routines, you won't have to wait too long for results. Like I did, and I knew that a big score was coming and I just have to be in that zone, not get completely bogged down and start worrying about my batting," he added.
"I just wanted to keep batting as long as possible and get the team to a decent target.
"We realised at one point, after 20-25 overs, that it's not a 300-wicket because the pitch was getting slower and shot-making wasn't easy."