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India v South Africa, 3rd Test, Kanpur, 2nd day
Daryll Cullinan: 'South Africa will not mind a deficit of 20-30'
April 12, 2008
Sourav Ganguly's knock could be match-winning but a target of around 200 for India will make SA favourites
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Daryll Cullinan: "Looking at the pressure India was under, and the way the other batsmen struggled, I thought Sourav Ganguly's knock was a fine one" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former South Africa batsman Daryll Cullinan to look back on the hard-fought day two of the third Test between India and South Africa being played in Kanpur.

Daryll, looking at the score today, do you think any team will believe they have their noses in front, or is it again on an even keel?

Daryll Cullinan: I think it's again on an even keel if you just look at the stats and the figures. But the point that will be in the back of the mind of both teams will centre around the team that is going to bat last on this pitch. I think that is the one thought that will particularly be with India. South Africa will not mind being behind by 20-30 runs; they will back themselves to knock that down. It will all come down to that last innings. I think South Africa will be pleased with their work today, but saying that, it's not yet finished yet for India. We will have to just wait and see. Tomorrow will once again prove to be a tough, uncompromising day of Test cricket.

AR: You spoke yesterday about the need for India to build partnerships. We saw one between Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and one between Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh. But how much will it hurt India that neither could go onto becoming very substantial?

DC: Without a doubt. I think that's the key to this Test; firstly, the ability of a batsman to survive on this pitch and, secondly, the need to develop partnerships. This is the sort of pitch that can create tremendous pressure; you can never 'be in' on it - Hashim Amla made this point and so did a couple of the Indian players. You can look back on this Test and say that Ganguly's innings proved to be a match-winning one, or India could look back and say if only they had bigger partnerships, that could have made a world of difference. It's a fine line, this Test. It's a hard-fought, uncompromising Test and when one looks back on such Tests, it's usually five or ten runs here or there for either team that could have made the difference.

AR: What did you make of Ganguly's knock? He was quite aggressive and hit quite a few boundaries - what did you make of his approach on what was a tough pitch to bat on?

DC: Under the circumstances, looking at the pressure India was under, and the way the other batsmen struggled, I thought it was a fine knock. It required some good skills; a good balance between attacking and defending. You can't stand around on a pitch like that. When opportunity presents itself, you have to go after it. I was really impressed with Ganguly's skill.

AR: You said yesterday that Paul Harris would be crucial to South Africa's chances - what did you think of the way he bowled today?

DC: The day was always going to come when Harris' ability on a spinning track was going to be tested. He has never really been a big spinner of the ball. He had a job to tie down one end and not allow India to take the game away from South Africa from that end. But in this match so far, we have seen the spinners beat the bat and pick up wickets, and South Africa would be disappointed with his performance. He has never extracted huge turn and bounce and sadly, he's been shown up here.

AR: India have to bat last on this pitch: what sort of a score do you think they would be comfortable chasing?

DC: I think South Africa will be comfortable if they are at least 150 runs ahead. If they push on and get 200 ahead, then they will surely be be favourites. It just depends on how bad this pitch is and how quickly it deteriorates come tomorrow. It's usually around the end of day two or on day three that the pitch starts to wear. I think India have to try and get 30-40 more runs. A lead of 60-70 will make India feel a bit more comfortable, but having said that South Africa will back themselves - they really have to play well here and anything around a 180-plus lead, and they would be backing themselves as favourites to win.

AR: Thank you for your views, Daryll. We'll hear from you again tomorrow.

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