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India v South Africa, 1st Test, Chennai, 5th day
Daryll Cullinan: 'South Africa would have gained confidence'
March 30, 2008
South Africa will be pleased with this outcome and will believe they can stand up to India and even beat them
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Daryll Cullinan: "I had my doubts about McKenzie as an opener but I am delighted with his performance" © AFP

Medini Mangala: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. As always I have with me Daryll Cullinan to look back on the final day of the first Test in Chennai.

Daryll, plenty of positives for South Africa from this Test. They've batted well in both innings and their bowlers managed to bowl India out on day four. They will be very happy with their performance.

Daryll Cullinan: I think they will be absolutely thrilled. I had said at the outset of the series that if South Africa go back with a drawn series, they will consider it a victory. India threw everything at them but they [South Africa] have come out well. Their batsmen have got in and got big hundreds. I am particularly thrilled for Neil McKenzie. I had doubts about him as an opener for South Africa but [he got] a double hundred in Bangladesh on a good wicket and [he batted well] on another good wicket here. But the point is that you still have to get the big runs and that is what he has achieved. So they [South Africa] will take a lot of heart from it. They were on top of the Indian seamers on a batting-friendly pitch and Harbhajan Singh and [Anil] Kumble weren't really successful - perhaps there wasn't enough assistance in the pitch for them. But at the end of the day, I think India will be concerned about how many runs their bowlers went for, Harbhajan in particular.

MM: Is Jacques Kallis' failure a worry for South Africa because on a flat track he didn't score too many runs and he didn't do too much in Bangladesh either?

DC: No, I am not concerned. Kallis is like Sachin Tendulkar. You can be sure that Tendulkar will get a hundred in the series and I can say the same thing about Kallis. He is too good a player. He probably just needs a bit of time at the crease to get going and to get a feel for things. I'm still expecting him to do pretty well on this tour.

MM: You mentioned some of the things that might worry India - their fielding let them down and also the four-bowler combination hasn't worked too well. Should they go back to their five-bowler combination with Ishant Sharma back in the team?

DC: They are going to have to look at their combinations but first, they need to move away from these sort of pitches. You cannot realistically expect a result or expect your bowlers to be penetrative on pitches like this.

I want to see India back Sharma, back their swing bowlers. On day one and day two there will be bounce and movement and as it [the game] progresses, the wicket should deteriorate and we should see some turn. You have to give South Africa a chance if India want to win this series.

MM: Any positives for India from this Test, Daryll?

DC: [It has to be] Sehwag. I mean he stands out with a remarkable performance. India know that they got the beating from South Africa and South Africa would have gained confidence and more belief that they can beat India. I just think they [India] need to be a bit more bold; they should look to be more attacking and probably a bit more disciplined. They also need to be a bit more wary of this side because it is a determined side. It has got some top players and I think it makes for a very good second and third Test.

MM: Do you expect South Africa to go into the next Test with an unchanged squad?

DC: Probably, because I cannot see a change. The only option may be to bring in an extra spinner but I don't know in place of whom. I think they will go in with the same squad, I see no reason for them wanting to change it. [Morne] Morkel and [Dale] Steyn would have gained a lot out of this Test and the way Makhaya Ntini came back was very encouraging for South Africa.

I think South Africa have every reason to believe that they can seriously compete with India and take them on without doubt.

MM: Thank you for your comments Daryll. We'll hear from you again during the second Test. Goodbye.

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