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India v South Africa, 1st Test, Chennai, 3rd day
Daryll Cullinan: 'South Africa have to define Harris' role'
March 28, 2006
South Africa's bowlers struggle as India ride on Virender Sehwag's triple ton
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Daryll Cullinan: "Virender Sehwag took the game to Paul Harris and it paid off handsomely for India" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former batsman of South Africa Daryll Cullinan to look back on the action on day three of the first Test between India and South Africa in Chennai.

Daryll, it's just been a story about the batsmen hasn't it? With his aggressive knock Virender Sehwag would have totally altered South Africa's gameplan?

Daryll Cullinan: It certainly has. It has put South Africa's performance into perspective; it has put the outfield and the ease with which the batsmen can score runs into perspective. But saying that, it has been a remarkable innings from quite a remarkable player. The way that he took the game, particularly to South Africa's quicks and notably to Paul Harris as well [was very important]. Harris was a critical link for Graeme Smith in tying an end down and the thing that he [Smith] feared the most [happened]; Sehwag took the game to Harris and it paid off handsomely for India. It has been a remarkable turnaround and it has completely changed the complexion of this match.

AR: Smith removed the slips pretty early on; do you think he went on the defensive a bit too soon and this played into Sehwag's hands?

DC: There could be a couple of reasons for that. He probably felt that maybe the ball wouldn't go to the slip cordon. He was trying to force Sehwag into making a mistake. He probably felt that since this was the first Test, there was a risk in trying to keep attacking. He may have also felt that there was no reason to attack. It didn't look like South Africa were trying to get a wicket - there was no penetration and there was no spin for Harris. So there were probably a whole range of thoughts going through his mind. And Sehwag was almost like a runaway train - how do you stop something like that?

AR: On a pitch like this is there anything the bowlers can do?

DC: Just pray and hope that the batsmen make mistakes. Hope that the pitch will deteriorate and that eventually, it will offer some assistance for the bowlers. I think it's fair to say that it has been a batting paradise but nevertheless, India have had to put the runs on the board and had to put them on quickly, so full marks to India for their batting performance. They have dominated the South African attack which hasn't looked like getting a wicket.

AR: You had said yesterday that Paul Harris' role would be crucial - we saw Sehwag take the attack to him today; what did you think of the way he bowled today and his strategy?

DC: Well, he went over the wicket pretty quickly and that disappointed me. There has got to come a time when South Africa has to look to bowl Harris around the wicket and try to deceive the batsmen - perhaps through the air or through different field placings. It was all pretty predictable and there wasn't much rough on offer for him outside leg stump. It's still early days and South Africa still haven't defined how the left-arm spinner will bowl in this part of the world.

AR: We have seen some puffs of dust ... with the Indians scoring at such a fast clip, do you see the possibility of a twist in this game?

DC: I don't think it's very likely. One would still have to see how the pitch plays for another day. When you see so many runs in three days, it is highly unlikely that things will deteriorate dramatically on day five.

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