Self-belief is SA's strength

Self-belief is SA's strength

Self-belief is SA's strength

Graeme Smith

This was the Proteas’ fifth win, as against four losses, in 11 Tests since their first visit to India in 1996-97. Three of those wins have come by an innings – by an innings and 90 runs in Ahmedabad in 2008, by an innings and 71 in Bangalore in 2000 and now this one – making the South Africans the only team to register an innings victory in India in the last 25 years.

MS Dhoni’s first loss as Test captain also ended a 14-match unbeaten streak, India’s last previous defeat transpiring at the P Sara stadium in Colombo against Sri Lanka in August 2008. India’s last defeat at home was that Ahmedabad loss to South Africa in April 2008.

South Africa only need a draw in the second Test beginning in Kolkata on Sunday to wrest the number one ranking back from the Indians, who must win to stay on top. “We have been really clinical,” said Graeme Smith, the Protean skipper. “It is important to play our style of cricket.

“At the same time, we can’t come here and blindly play our style. We have to adapt but stick to our style. We did that every well throughout the game and used our bowlers in short spells. Amla’s double century was great to watch. We played with three quicks and Harris chipping in and we adapted. It is a credit to the team. More than anything else, the mental energy the guys showed was great. You need to put in that kind of effort to bowl out a team like India twice in two days.” The last time South Africa were here, they were upended by eight wickets in Kanpur on a dust-bowl immediately after the Ahmedabad triumph. “So what are you telling me? There is a guy with a rake at Eden Gardens?” Smith laughed. “India have more control over the conditions. But there is enough experience in our group now. I don’t think anything will surprise us going into Kolkata.”

Maybe that’s where the secret of South Africa’s triumph lies — in self-belief, and in the self-confidence to meet every eventuality head-on.

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