India v SA, 4th Test, Delhi, 4th day December 6, 2015

Track is dead, but we are confident of winning - Yadav

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'The way SA are defending is a surprise' - Yadav

Umesh Yadav, the India fast bowler, is confident the team should be able to wrap up the Test on the final day after South Africa raised hopes of a draw by batting out 72 overs for the loss of just two wickets. They might have scored just 72 runs in those 72 overs, but already, only one of their innings in this series has been longer than this. India had cause for concern in the fact that the few edges that were produced kept dying in front of the catching men despite their creeping up close.

"Today also they gave catches, but they were lucky that those catches fell in the gaps rather than going to the fielders," Yadav said, when asked if the team was confident of taking eight wickets in a day on this pitch. "So I don't think they will survive the whole day without giving any catches. You never know, the wicket's character might change tomorrow. It might start turning more."

Yadav also said the pitch had become really slow. "If you see any pitch, after third or fourth day, it starts getting slower and slower," he said. "You don't get the desirable pace or bounce from the wicket. This is happening with this wicket also as the pace of this track is gone. Even if you are bowling a bouncer, you are not able to work up the desired pace or bounce. It's travelling easy."

India went as far as to sacrifice a few overs by bowling Ishant Sharma and Yadav from round the wicket so as to create some rough. "Yes, we tried to create a few patches so that the spinners get some kind of help," Yadav said. "With no pace or bounce, and with no reverse, we thought any rough that we could create will be good for our spinners."

The other challenge, Yadav said, was the reduced mistakes when batsmen refuse to play any shots. "It's a surprise as we did not think that they would play like this," Yadav said. "The way they are defending is a surprise because they are not even trying to play a shot. Even the deliveries in which they can score are being defended.

"It becomes a challenge when the batsman does not play a shot as chances of getting a player out decreases. When a batsman doesn't take any initiative then even if you bowl a good delivery, he will just block it out."

Ishant Sharma had recently remarked that taking wickets in domestic first-class matches can be more difficult than in Tests because the batsmen don't always look to score runs. Yadav was asked if his recent experience in domestic cricket helped. "I can tell you this kind of cricket can be very boring, because you just are bowling over after over and nothing is happening," Yadav said. "It becomes so boring that you start thinking as to whether something will happen or not. But yes, there is pressure on them and that's the reason they are blocking everything and trying to stretch this game. Our first target tomorrow morning will be to dismiss them as quickly as possible."

The biggest question that nobody has answered so far is the reasoning behind not enforcing the follow-on. India had South Africa on the mat when the first innings finished. They were behind 213 runs. Only once have they managed to cross that mark in this series. At the time the decision was made, India had seven minutes to go to stumps, which would have really tested the openers against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Then the bowlers would have had a whole night to rest; not as though they would have been desperate for a rest: they had bowled only 49.3 overs in the first innings.

Yadav was asked if the team wondered the correct decision had been made in the dying moments of day two, but all he did was defend the timing of the declaration. "Don't know if we made a mistake, but it is common strategy that we wanted to score runs and set a target which makes the team comfortable," he reasoned. "Then we thought of attacking. We thought the more we score in the first hour, better it will be for us and we did score runs in that first hour. Normally, I don't think there will be much of a problem to get them out as we have lot of time at our disposal."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kumar on December 9, 2015, 15:47 GMT

    @Drew Foster, you may not see your own comments as one-eyed but others may see it. Its all in perspective. May be those so called sour grapes are not talking about SA but #1 ranked team from whom even better cricket was expected. Kohli might have felt the target for SA has to be 480 keeping #1 team's capability in his mind especially on this dead track. Batting defensively for those many overs is defenitely appreciable skill but why did SA think 480 is inconsequential? What surprised me here is SA decided to defend right from ball 1 when you have 5+ sessions in hand. Where do you see the fighting spirit here? I am talking all this keeping #1 team's capability in my mind.

  • Logan on December 7, 2015, 10:58 GMT

    HUMDINGERS , now you know the agression was just too much for SA

  • Sudhir on December 7, 2015, 9:11 GMT

    I think a lot more than this will surprise someone who has this little experience and reputation!

  •   Drew Foster on December 7, 2015, 8:53 GMT

    @SARANGSRK Can you please enlighten me as to the last time 481 was chased successfully in a test match? Never mind the 490+ you speak of, let's stick to reality and consider the actual target that was set. Why do you even bring Australia into it? Neither of the comments you replied to mentioned anything regarding Australia whatsoever! The fact is, if you take the win out of the mind of the opposition, don't complain when they fight with every bit of obstinance they can muster to achieve a drawn. India ensured runs were inconsequential for SA. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that approach. Just stop complaining and blaming the other team for not chasing runs when it doesn't work!

  • Wesley on December 7, 2015, 7:05 GMT

    @Deepak , South Africa have beaten India in India before in a Test series , they won a Test Series 2-0 vs India in India back in 2000 so your long speech about SA unable to play spin in their entire post-admission history is painfully ignorant because they have won a test series in India , Pakistan , Sri Lanka , Bangladesh and drawn two series in the UAE since re-admission ..Ashwin and Jadeja have been superb rather stick to praising them because your knowledge of South Africa leaves a lot to be desired. You probably also think SA have never won an ICC tournament either.

  •   Deepak Mariyappa on December 7, 2015, 6:01 GMT

    I am surprised that SA chickened out and decided to go dead defensive. Give them slightly turning tracks they look like novices and give them dead track like this and they just defend all day long. How can a team be called No.1 when they have no idea how to play an important aspect of test cricket, spin? Spin and pace are both aspects of cricket. It is totally unfair to say that having dangerous pace is OK but have sharp spin is obnoxious. When you allow 150+ pace, you should also allow and appreciate 45deg spin because both need the assistance from the track.

    It has been around 24-25 years since SA came back to cricket and till today have not found out how to play spin. Except a couple of batsman in this time, majority just know how to play a bouncer that the bowler throws at them but have no idea how to play a skillful spinner. They do not deserve to be at No.1 spot at all.

  • Harsh on December 7, 2015, 5:38 GMT

    "At the time the decision was made, India had seven minutes to go to stumps, which would have really tested the openers against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja." Come on, Sidharth! Come on!

  • k on December 7, 2015, 4:48 GMT

    Amazing how many times this SA team has saved a match with this tactic. They are easily the best team of this era but the fact they have had to dig in so often suggests that maybe they aren't as good as we all believe. Don't get me wrong, it's a skill what they are doing I'm just really surprised by how often they've appeared in such situations. And weird how they have a chokers reputation in ODIs but are so gritty in tests.

  • Sarang on December 7, 2015, 4:37 GMT

    @ DREW FOSTER, @HATSFORBATS .. 490 in 160+ overs on a dead track is not possible? Haha. It is far more achievable than what Smith gave to India in Melbourne and NZ in Perth. more than 5 rpo. Aussies should be the last people talking about someone else not declaring in time. Your 2-faced captains talk about playing to win and then, chicken out from declaring. LOL. So, who is one-eyed fan here, it is obvious to all.

  • k on December 7, 2015, 4:22 GMT

    Anything an Indian says is interpreted negatively on here. All yadav said was he was surprised by the way they played. But the experts on here use it to criticise India's tactics, strategy. With the series won, Kohli had no need to chase a win by enforcing a follow on. Making SA bat last was the correct thing to do as it was assumed the pitch would wear and make batting difficult. That it hasn't is unexpected but no drama as the series is won. Credit to SA for digging in. If they salvage a draw from this I predict Amla will make England pay for all his woes from this tour

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