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India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Ahmedabad, 3rd day
Daryll Cullinan: 'One of South Africa's greatest wins'
April 5, 2008
South Africa's fast bowlers rule the roost as India crumble to a humiliating innings defeat
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Daryll Cullinan: "India's top order lacked the willingness to fight and take on the South African attack" © AFP

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.

Comments: 7 
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Posted by Rajaram on (April 6, 2008, 10:11 GMT)

IPL will ruin Indian Cricket. The Indian Cricketers are getting distracted by money, and Twenty 2o is making them play Test Matches as if they had to be finished in 20 overs. Rahul Dravid,Saurav Ganguly,VVS Laxman,Sachin Tendulkar are patient cricketers,who know what endurance is.Not the likes of Dhoni,Sehwag,Jaffer,or any of the new breed.

There is no way India can come close to South Africa and England in Test cricket - home AND away;so effectively fourth-- if they can beat Pakistan and Sri Lanka and West indies. Humility is a virtue. Indians don't have it.

The WACA pitch was NOT the usual bouncy pitch --so India won against Australia.It is clearly proven --after Nagpur against Australia, and Ahmedabad against South Africa,that Indians can be tigers only in mild condtions favouring spin.Harbhajan said so too.

Posted by Mushfiq on (April 6, 2008, 7:47 GMT)

Yes, this is a very bad loss for India and all heartiest congratulation goes to South Africa. They really showed why they are no. two team both the form of cricket. I think Tendulkar absence is not much bother India, the main problem was the absence of new sensation Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan. R.P Singh and Sreesanth are not like Zaheer and Ishant. I also thimk opener Jafar should dropped where a player like Goutam Gambhir are waiting to have a chance. He will be the next super star batsman of Indian cricket team. Now it is quiet impossible for India to level the series but let see what happen.

Posted by Chris on (April 6, 2008, 7:40 GMT)

What a great win for SA.They were the better team.I think they have a well balanced team.Great to see the top six getting runs.I'm worried a bit about Prince,maybe JP should be given the nod for the third test,seeing that Prince has not had a good knock in a while.JP also gives us another spin option.There bowling attack is great,Steyn is just getting better,Ntini is back to his best & Morkel is getting better each day.We do have Zondeki still on the bench whichis great.I'm worried about our spin depth,Peterson has put in a couple of good performances lately but i am still not convinced as i think he will struggle against the bigger teams.India needs to get rid of Jaffer & RP that are out of sorts,Gambir and Sharma should come in.India needs to get a fielding coach as they loose a lot of runs in this area.Kumble is too predictable and poses no threat.I think Doni should take over the captaincy and that will make way for a more attacking bowler.Well done SA,but watch out for India!!

Posted by Naman on (April 6, 2008, 5:45 GMT)

I think that we should not write off India after this debacle.They were without their best batsman Sachin Tendulkar.He has a great record in Ahemdabad.India missed him very much.Wasim Jaffer should be dropped for the next test match.India need to bring Gautam Gambhir back into the test side.He should be given an extended run in the team.RP Singh should also be dropped as he is lacking match practice and is woeffully out of form.They should bring in Piyush Chawla as India's strength is spin bowling.I think South Africa is going to have a hard time in the next test match as the Indian team is surely going to bounce backafter the pounding they got from South Africa in this test match.

Posted by Ashwin on (April 5, 2008, 18:47 GMT)

South Africa might just win the series. They have shown without doubt that they are the better team. They've held out in this Test, and in the last Test, after the flogging by Sehwag, they still had the nerve to force a draw. The third Test should be one to cherish, if the action follows the way it has. India under-performed. Sehwag has been spoken off as a great, but showed us that even with two triple hundreds, he can never be compared to Sachin, Lara, Ponting, and Kallis. It's about time the batting looks beyond Sachin and the other 'big' guys - they're going to be gone in the next year or two. It's vital for India to look towards the future. Whatever happened to Dinesh Karthik or Parthiv Patel? These guys should make the step up.

Posted by Bharat on (April 5, 2008, 16:30 GMT)

Well, emphatic it was. But let us not forget the time South Africa were bundled out for 86 at The Wanderers last year by India, and inspite of that, they clinched the series. The conditions favoured South Africans more. India struggled without Zaheer and Ishant - who, with their swing and pace, would surely have made an impact. The problem was the bowling; which was one-dimensional. Nowadays, no team plays well in conditions which don't suit them. The pitch took everyone by surprise and by the time India realised, it was too late. The pitch eased out a bit in the afternoon of the first day and by the second morning, Kallis and de Villiers were set. However, India gave a good account of themselves today, and South Africa were very mean in the field. Well done, South Africa. However, it would be interesting to see how they would have handled the situation if they were put into to bat first in the deadly conditions in the first morning.

Posted by Tarun on (April 5, 2008, 15:43 GMT)

It is surely one of the greatest victories by a visiting team on Indian soil. South Africa outplayed India in all three departments. Paying due credit to South Africa, I would say that India came up with an under-par performance. They were just mere shadows of the players who challenged Australia in their own den. The inconsistency and unpredictability of Indian cricket has once again been displayed. India will have to come up with a definite game plan, and maintain a focussed attitude if they want to win in Kanpur

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