'A lifetime chance to win series in India'

'A lifetime chance to win series in India'

India have lost only two series at home since March 1987 – 0-2 against South Africa in 2000 and 1-2 against Australia in 2004 – and the Proteas are in prime position to drive home the advantage derived from their innings win in Nagpur.

“It’s terrific,” the South African skipper said of going into a Test in India as favourites. “Not many teams get the opportunity to win Test series in India. For most cricketers, it is a lifetime opportunity to win a series in India. That is something we want to tick off as a team, something we are motivated to achieve and excited about.”

South Africa will also regain the number one ranking if they win the series, but Smith said a series triumph in India would top that. “One takes care of the other,” he observed.

“We know that if in the next five days we can produce really good cricket, the ranking will take care of itself. For me, to look back and know that you have won a Test series in India, that is a terrific achievement. If you look back at some of the things you have achieved as a team, those are the sort of things to have memories of. Winning this series will certainly be a terrific memory at the end of the career.”

The Eden Gardens pitch has been the talking point for a couple of days now. “It looks pretty good. I am sure it will be a pretty good wicket, it always is here,” Smith remarked. “Let’s hope little things like that (focusing on the pitch) will distract the Indians a little bit. It will definitely help us.”

Smith was asked if India had the firepower to pick up 20 Test wickets. “There’s a lot of quality in the bowlers in the Indian line-up and they have proven it. You just have to look back at past Test matches in India – Zaheer and Harbhajan are the leading wicket-takers in the past year or two. The quality is there but that’s the challenge when teams play each other. You need to negate the strengths of the opposition.”

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