ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, Nagpur

Smith hails South Africa's determination

Firdose Moonda in Nagpur

March 12, 2011

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Five years ago, to the day, South Africa successfully chased 434 to beat Australia at the Wanderers. It was a historic win, featuring the highest run-chase in ODI cricket. It was a day to remember and when Graeme Smith was in the field against India on Saturday afternoon in Nagpur, memories of that game came back to him for all the wrong reasons.

"On the bus this morning the team manager said to me it was the anniversary of the 438 game and at one stage I was having nightmares about chasing that," Smith said. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were doing to the South African attack worse than what Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich did that day in 2006. After 15 overs of that match, Australia were 96 without loss. India reached that point after 11.2 overs and they showed no signs of stopping.

While South Africa had a stunned home crowd to deal with in Johannesburg, in Nagpur they had a boisterous Indian crowd, spurring on every run. "We were on the backend of a massive beating," Smith said. "The noise out there was really intense." Control was slipping from Smith's hands and he didn't know what to do to rein in the run flow. Two overs later, he did the only thing he thought might work and called for a time out.

Robin Peterson had an lbw appeal against Sachin Tendulkar, which was clearly missing leg, but Smith asked for the review, not because he thought it was out, but because he felt the team needed a break. "It was really to bring the guys in together. The way Sachin and Viru were playing, it was difficult to connect and regroup."

Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson celebrate South Africa's win, India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur, March 12, 2011
The South African middle order stepped up at the right time © Associated Press

The team got into a huddle immediately and Smith began instructing. "I said to them: let's show some composure and focus our heads and maybe we can make up the 30-40 runs extra that we've given away." For the next 15 balls little changed but then the tide started turning. Johan Botha's ability to turn the game around was on display, and even though the wickets didn't come for at least another 20 overs the advantage began shifting.

In the end, Smith was pleased to report that South Africa felt as though they had "beat our targets by miles," during the innings break. Dale Steyn, Man of the Match for his 5 for 50, said that after the blitzkrieg South Africa would have been happy with keeping India to 340. "They kept putting up those projected scores and I kept thinking what is going on here," he said.

Steyn has had a particularly successful run in Nagpur, where he took 7 for 51 in a Test match last year and engineered the Indian collapse during the batting Powerplay on Saturday. Smith said the way his bowlers "just hung in there and pounced at the end," was what pleased him the most about their effort in the field.

There may have been some thoughts of South Africa being on too much of a high after their stunning comeback with the ball to focus on their task with the bat, but Smith said the positive vibes pushed them on. "We were on a bit of a momentum shift. We spoke a lot about partnerships and how we wanted to play."

Although the pitch was "not as free-flowing" as the Indian opening pair had made it look, South Africa stuck to the task. Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla laid the foundation, before AB de Villiers put the team on track to get over the line. Still, the untested middle order had to play their part and Smith was glad that their role ended up being vital. "This is massive for them and they would have gained a lot of confidence from this."

It ended up not being as difficult a task as the 434 they had to hunt down five years ago, but the conditions in Nagpur were tough to deal with. Smith said South Africa were careful not to be overawed and wanted to start building a legacy of being competitive in big games and pressure situations. "So many people talk about the privilege of playing in India and it is a privilege. But I also told the team that this is where a team of our quality deserves to play. We wanted to earn respect today and we did that with the way we played and the way we came back."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

RSS Feeds: Firdose Moonda


Comments: 35 
. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Raj on (March 13, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

It was good game to watch and could have gone either way...people thing indian bowling was bad than Indian openers proved what they can do to world class bowlers like Styne and Morkel...Smith had no clue how to stop them when they were 8/over. Mistakes happen and can be served as learning lesson...CANT WAIT FOR the QF - BEWARE PAKISTAN!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

congrats sa...you have proved that u can win tight games.... and for people who call sa chokers, the reason for that is people always expect sa 2 do well in all tournaments & they lose at the critical moments mainly bcoz of bad luck, but wat team India has won till now??? always indians boast of their team, but they never won anything, so they are just a bunch of SORE LOSERS....wen sa bt India 3-2 in the recent series, all indians were saying that india were missing their senior players, hope all of them legged it now,.... so please indians respect other teams & dont be arrogant.... enjoy cricket,...once again well done sa

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

Van wyk is definetely our wickest link at the moment( Both keeping and Batting), not that he is not a great cricketer but i think it has 2 do with world cup stage presure....get ingram at number 7 and keep with AB....

Posted by Dru on (March 13, 2011, 10:13 GMT)

Great show by SA and a team effort alround. Contributions in the chase came from everyone and contrasting roles buy Kallis and Amla to AB and JP. It was a perfect chase in the end and Faf for me played a cool hand at the end to hang around to see the win. Not becuase he failed but the role of Van Wyk needs some consideration, I think he needs to bat higher but thats a problem with the top 4 set in stone. May Van Wyk after AB and let Duminy hanlde the finish where he is good and experienced. Wan Wyk is not a finisher and dosnt bat this low. I assume AB cant keep as Ingram would be a better option at a batter than Van Wyk.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

When Bangladesh win , why cant SA with Team India , lets enjoy the game folks win loss is part of the game , give support to Dhoni & men rarther than pointing mistakes

Posted by Gavin on (March 13, 2011, 9:56 GMT)

@Nancy No individual performance? Did you watch the game? Steyns 5 on that deck while india were batting was an incredible perfromance. I was loving the length balls tossed up to allow Peterson to smash the winning runs. Hideho, who's the chokers now? Looks like the tag goes to England who have choked twice to minnows in the tournament so far.

Posted by Tony on (March 13, 2011, 8:50 GMT)

I had a whole bunch of Indian colleagues texting me the whole game reminding me of the Choker tag ad nauseum. I am pleased that SA served Humble Pie for dinner. Excellent work by the SA team. For India, they need to be concerned here because they managed to Choke..... TWICE in the same match!! Good luck to both teams going forward and I hope we meet again in the final. Both teams will be worthy of their place if it happens, though the Australian Juggernaut rolls on almost unnoticed!

Posted by Douglas on (March 13, 2011, 8:49 GMT)

Unbelievable match. Simply unreal. 9 wickets for 29 runs, and this after the carnage of the first 30-odd overs. Then our batters, esp AB, Faf, Botha and Peterson, showed the most incredible composure under intense pressure and in front of a boisterous crowd...hopefully finally putting to bed the notion that SA's a 'bunch of chokers'. That we most decidedly were not. They played with huge doses of heart and outright courage. Well done boys, we will remember this one for a looooong time.

Posted by Craig on (March 13, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

What an awesome game. Does this mean that India are chokers?

Posted by Gerrard on (March 13, 2011, 7:53 GMT)

South Africa is the best team all round team at the world cup... with this win and the confidence they will gain, I cannot see anybody beating them.

India... beaten at their own game, in their own back yard. Simply put - they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Email Feedback Print
Firdose MoondaClose
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet

World Cup Videos