India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 1st day November 28, 2004

'It's good that the pacemen took wickets' - Smith



Zaheer Khan subjected all the batsmen to a searching examination on the first day at Kolkata © Getty Images

The loss of five wickets for 227 notwithstanding, Graeme Smith sounded positive at the post-day press conference, saying that his team had some batting still to come, and that they needed to push on on day two. Smith interpreted the success of Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan as a promising sign for South Africa. "It's good for us that the pacemen took wickets," he said. "We only have the one spinner in Justin Ontong, and the rest of it is an all-seam attack, so that could work to our advantage. We've worked very hard on our preparations for this tour, and I think we are much better prepared than the last time we toured the sub-continent."

Smith also praised the contributions of Jacques Kallis and Jacques Rudolph, and noted that Hashim Amla had made a confident start to his Test career, even if he had got only 24. "I was impressed by how calm he was," he said. "Playing your first Test on the subcontinent is a daunting task. He came in when the ball was reverse-swinging and looked solid. I expect he will be even more hungry in the second innings."

Irfan Pathan, India's representative at the press conference, also evinced satisfaction at how the day had gone, both personally and for the team. He pointed out that the wicket was good for batting, and that India had done well to take five wickets and also restrict South Africa to 227.

Pathan said he was pleased that Zaheer Khan had bowled so well, observing that it is always easier for a bowler when somebody is bowling well at the other end. "Often it happens that the bowler who bowls best ends up not taking the most wickets, but he builds up pressure for the other bowlers to exploit. I think the whole attack bowled well today, even if the spinners didn't take any wickets. We didn't bowl too many loose balls and South Africa never got away.The morning session tomorrow is very important, and we will be looking to get South Africa out as soon as possible."

Chandrahas Choudhury is a staff writer on Wisden Asia Cricket magazine