'Dominant performance'

SA skipper Smith hopes to build on momentum

“When you go 0-1 down in a three-match series, there’s always extra pressure,” the South African captain remarked. “The build-up to the next Test becomes crucial -- the decisions you make, how you train, the selection, how the squad moves to the next Test.
I know the Indian team always play under pressure, but they will feel it. There’s high expectations and they’ve won a lot of big series, they are number one in the world. If we can really put in a good first few days in Durban, it will be great.

“It was a pretty dominant performance here,” he went on. “We controlled the game throughout the four days. Yesterday’s partnership between Sachin and MS was the one time we really put in the yards. The wicket flattened out a lot, it was hot and windy and the guys showed a lot of character, especially Dale’s spell at the end. We were ahead of the game the whole time, we played with good pace which gave us a lot of time to bowl India out.”

Smith refused to buy the theory that the toss had played a crucial part in the outcome of the Test. “Winning it was definitely a positive in our camp,” he noted. “I don’t think the wicket actually did that much. For a wicket that was under covers for four days, I thought it would do a bit more. I think India expected more from the wicket than what actually happened.  They were tentative and on the back foot a lot of the time. Our bowlers bowled well. When you bowl on a wicket that you think is going to do a bit, you’ve got to get the ball in the right place.”

While patting Sachin Tendulkar for his 50th Test ton, the Protean skipper couldn’t help but take a mild pot-shot. “Under pressure, being able to score runs is a feather in his cap,” he began. “But I was a bit surprised that he made life for us so easy this morning (by not farming the strike). Also, MS needs credit for that partnership yesterday as well. If he didn’t hang around, Sachin wouldn’t have got his 50th.”

Smith was asked if India had what it took to take 20 wickets. “I’d love to say no, but no one wants to touch the money,” he laughed. “For us, it’s about getting refocused. As a batting unit, we’ve become a very strong top six. The guys have had good performances for a long time and we’d like to think we can cope with conditions wherever we go.”

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