India v South Africa, 1st ODI, Belfast June 26, 2007

Kallis impressed by team's calmness



Sachin Tendulkar fell for 99 © Getty Images

Jacques Kallis, the South Africa captain, was proud of the way his side came through a testing run chase against India at Stormont. He anchored the pursuit with a 116-ball 91, but received vital support from Vernon Philander in the match-winning seventh-wicket stand of 55.

"I thought it was a competitive score then once we got a good start that set the base for us," he said. "The key here is getting through the new ball, the openers played pretty well then we just needed someone to bat through and guys to bat around him to get close to them. Vernon did extremely well there at the end to finish it off."

The chase was shaping up well at 99 for 1, but then Rahul Dravid brought on his spinners which cut through the middle order and brought India right back into the contest. "It was the nature of the wicket - it just got slower and slower as the innings went on," Kallis said. "We tried to do the same thing towards the back end of our innings [take the pace off] but certainly the spinners did come into play and bowled pretty well to put the pressure on us."

South Africa made two changes from their win over Ireland on Sunday with the experienced pair of Andrew Hall and Andre Nel coming into the side. However, it was still a relatively inexperienced side and Kallis was full of praise for the way they handled the situation despite the lack of cricket since the World Cup.

"We came in very cold and for the guys to play the type of cricket they did today was very impressive," said Kallis who was also delighted with his Man of the Match form. "It was nice to get some runs and wickets again to carry on the form from the World Cup and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the week."

After excelling with the ball against Ireland with 4 for 12, Philander showed a level-head with the bat. When he came in South Africa still needed 53, but he calmly partnered Kallis to the final-over win.

"To come in and perform the way he has shows big character. He's done it back home in domestic cricket, finishing off a lot of games for the Cape Cobras and today he did it at the highest level. He'll gain a lot of confidence and he's setting himself some high standards to maintain."

India did well to put up such a strong performance considering the virus which has been running through their camp for the last few days. They managed to field a strong eleven, but some of the players were still struggling, and Dravid admitted Kallis' innings was the difference.

"There were aspects of the game we were quite happy with, not least the fact that a lot of the guys were still not 100% right," said Dravid. "They went out there, tried their best and fought really hard. There were some good performances with bat and ball and it was a close game.

"It was just a little frustrating that having played some good cricket we couldn't pip them at the post. Kallis was the wicket we needed but we just couldn't get it."

South Africa are going to spend a day playing golf on Wednesday while the Indians will, no doubt, be dosing up on the cold and flu remedies. The second match of the series takes place on Friday.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

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