Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former South African batsman Daryll Cullinan to look back on South Africa's emphatic victory in the second Test against India in Ahmedabad.
Daryll, a comprehensive victory for South Africa - would it be a correct assessment in saying they outplayed India in all departments of the game?
Daryll Cullinan: Yes, I think that is a fair assessment. This will go down as one of South Africa's greatest Test wins, especially looking at the way they outclassed India in all departments of the game. But coming into this Test, I think there was only one side that was in this Test, one side that was determined to win and that was South Africa.
AR: Once again we saw the Indian top order struggling against the South African pace attack on a pitch that has eased out from when they batted in the first innings. Do you think once again they showed a distinct lack of application?
DC: Something is not good there. I think their willingness to fight and stand up and take on the South African attack was seriously lacking. Let's just also say that this is a good South African attack at the moment. Dale Steyn is proving to be one of the most exciting if not the most exciting fast bowler in world cricket right now; Makhaya Ntini critically, was back to his best for South Africa. He ran in and bowled with a lot of heart and determination and Morne Morkel is going to get better and better as his career goes on. Let's give credit where it's due. It's not easy to deal with this South African pace attack on these sort of pitches, but if you are going to come up against them on pitches like this [one in Ahmedabad], India have to seriously look at their technique. I thought their footwork was very poor and that's also indicative of their mental attitude. If there is no willingness, you are going to get exposed and caught out against an attack like this on pitches like this.
AR: But how do batsmen approach such a task, when they are staring at a deficit of so many runs - do they defend or attack? Do you think the Indian batsmen got their approach wrong?
DC: They had lost the Test on the morning of the first day. To come back from scoring 76 in the first innings is virtually impossible. They have to go back and look at whether they were properly prepared for this Test. Were they intimidated by the pitch - did they read too much into it? I just saw hesitancy on their part, I didn't see them willing to commit themselves on the front foot which you need to be doing if there is a bit of movement and bounce.
It's just one Test - they haven't lost the series and they can easily bounce back in Kanpur. They have to have a long hard look at themselves; they have to study the South African attack and look at what they could have done better. You don't become a bad player overnight and become incapable of getting runs against this South African attack. I thought Sourav Ganguly played superbly in the second innings and that will do his confidence a world of good. I think it is a matter of the heart and mind, first and foremost and then the rest will come. But from what I gather, there are too many distractions around this Indian team right now and this South African side is hungry. I haven't seen them this determined ever, under Graeme Smith's captaincy.
AR: A word on the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Ganguly partnership - after a few initial jitters, they showed that the pitch really didn't have too many devils in it. But crucially, both got out at critical junctures?
DC: There was some speculation over Ganguly's dismissal but Dhoni once again showed that if the South Africans keep him quiet, there will be a big shot coming and that again was his downfall. India have come off a tour to Australia where they have dealt with pace and bounce, so I don't think they'll panic. There is still a Test series to be drawn, which they can come back and do. It's going to be tough now for the captain and coach. It's never easy getting a side together [after a defeat like this] and they haven't got much time to think about things. They have got to make sure that they come back and play with a lot more pride and determination. The runs are there to be got against this South African attack - Rahul Dravid fought hard in the first innings and Dhoni and Ganguly again showed some fight today. They have got to get off to much better starts and get through the South African new-ball bowlers and hopefully someone can bat through.
AR: Sachin Tendulkar has been ruled out of the Kanpur Test ... how crucial has and will the absence of Tendulkar be?
DC: It has been crucial but India will have to start moving on and not pin all their hopes on Tendulkar all the time. In his absence, someone has got to see opportunity; someone has got to say, "Once Tendulkar goes I am going to be the man to bat for India in that position for the next five to ten years." It's got to be a great opportunity for guys like Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh who are there in the squad. They have got to grab it with both hands and make a statement.
AR: Any team changes you foresee for India in the Kanpur Test?
|This will go down as one of South Africa's greatest Test wins, especially looking at the way they outclassed India in all departments of the game. Coming into this Test, I think there was only one side that was determined to win and that was South Africa|
DC: A lot will depend on the pitch. It is clear that they got the pitch wrong in Chennai and they got it wrong here. Hopefully they can resolve that and back their strengths. Their pace attack is not going to make a difference to South Africa unless Ishant Sharma comes in, which they will hope for. If there is a good chance of him playing - if he's fit - then I think he will come in to try and put the South African top order under pressure with a bit more pace. I would imagine that they would back Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to do the job with the ball and make the ball really turn in Kanpur. I can't see why they won't do that; that has got to be their best chance of beating South Africa and squaring the series. Other than that I can't see too many changes.
AR: South Africa are now in a position where they can't lose this series - how do you see them approaching Kanpur?
DC: I think they will look to play positive cricket. I will be a bit concerned if they look to defend their lead. They are a confident side and I think they have got all their bases covered in terms of the balance of their side. Whether they lose in Kanpur or not - I think this tour has been a major success for them. I for one didn't think that they would beat India in India or win the series. I said that if they go home with the series drawn it will be considered a major success. Whatever happens in Kanpur, I think they have acquitted themselves very well and they deserve this victory. Credit must go to Mickey Arthur and Smith who have really pulled this side along with them.
AR: Thank you for your views Daryll. We'll here from you during the Kanpur Test, for now it's goodbye.
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