India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 2nd day February 15, 2010

Sehwag was unsettling - van Zyl

N Hunter

Corrie van Zyl, the South Africa coach, has said Virender Sehwag's aggressive batting and the vociferous crowd at Eden Gardens unnerved his bowlers in Kolkata. Sehwag scored 165 - his hundred came off 87 balls - and Sachin Tendulkar composed 106 to give India the lead by the end of the second day.

"It is unsettling to everybody, yes," van Zyl said. "The fact that he [Sehwag] scores so quickly and gets the crowd behind him, so all of that is unsettling."

The indiscipline of South Africa's bowlers was surprising given the havoc Dale Steyn and co caused, less than a week ago in Nagpur, with sustained pace, accurate lines and consistent lengths. Today they failed to stick to those plans and shied away as soon as the opposition made an aggressive move.

The mistakes started at the top. Both Steyn and Morne Morkel tried to step on the accelerator constantly instead of maintaining attacking lengths. Wayne Parnell's inexperience came to fore when he tried too hard, too fast. Paul Harris forgot he needed to use flight and variations to work batsmen out instead of being obsessed with pitching in the rough. "We were too full at times and the short balls were the least run-scoring balls," van Zyl said.

It did not help that most of the South Africans were playing at the imposing Eden Gardens for the first time. The crowds here have always played a big hand in India's victories and for a young cricketer it can be an overwhelming influence. Today, as Sehwag and Tendulkar capitalised on the constant supply of loose balls, the crowd of 40,000 odd went berserk. They even cheered each time Ian Gould signaled a wide when Harris' negative line strayed too far outside leg.

Despite the pressure, van Zyl said the most important mistake his players committed was to not follow strategies. "That is the time when you have to stick to the game plans and get back to the basics and that is something we did not do. One thing about strategies is executing them, which is the most important thing." He also said the bowling performance today lacked the patience that was evident in their success in Nagpur.

van Zyl, however, remained confident South Africa would bounce back especially after they dismissed Sehwag and Tendulkar in the last hour of the day. With light showers predicted in the mornings, an interesting finish is a strong possibility. "Those last three wickets, out of which two were really big, have set us up for a good day tomorrow," he said.