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N Hunter in Kolkata
February 12, 2010
AB de Villiers is confident that South Africa have the upperhand 48 hours ahead of the final Test of the two-match series, starting at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. "Cricket is all about momentum and confidence," de Villiers said after another strenuous training session, lasting four hours. "We have won two Test matches in a row and we are a well-balanced side. But we still have to win a series."
Before their innings victory in the Nagpur Test, South Africa had trounced England in the final Test at the Wanderers to level the four-match series 1-1. But de Villiers admitted that the South Africans failed to cash in on winning the home series against England, especially since they were standing on the brink of victory at least twice.
"It was very disappointing to not win the series. The consolation was we dominated most of the Test series but that means nothing at the end of the day, as it was 1-1."
But the team retained the winning momentum from Johannesburg, which de Villiers said helped them to take charge immediately into the India series. "We focused on the last Test match (Johannesburg), and won that one and took forward the confidence and momentum into the Nagpur Test and that has obviously shown," he said.
In Nagpur, South Africa outplayed India on all fronts, including in the spin department, an area India were expected to hold the edge. But Paul Harris' tenacious performance even put Harbhajan Singh to shame as India's main spinner failed miserably in imposing himself over the opposition. A telling statistic was Harbhajan managed to bowl just one maiden over compared to the South African left-armer's 17 in the crucial second innings, which not only curtailed the Indian batsmen's movements but also dried up the runs.
According to de Villiers, now that India are in a tight corner, they would be desperate to bounce back and use every available option. One shot in the arm in the return of VVS Laxman form the wrist injury. In the absence of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh in the middle order, Laxman's return counts crucial for India who made three changes after the defeat in the first Test. South Africa remain undeterred. But they are not taking the Indians lightly even if they looked a demoralised lot across the four days in Nagpur.
"There is no need to change our gameplans when we are winning Test matches," de Villiers said. "It is going to be a great challenge here at the Eden Gardens. I'm pretty sure India will come back with a big fight."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A collection of fine cricket writing on great cricket feats, and never mind the omissions
Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Johannesburg