South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day December 29, 2006

'Can we survive? Why not?' - Dhoni

India need 316 runs to win the Test and Dhoni said 'the way we bat till tea will be very important' © AFP

The finger injury that Mahendra Singh Dhoni sustained might hamper him when he walks out to bat on Saturday, but he was confident that India could save the Kingsmead Test and head to Cape Town still 1-0 up in the series. And according to him, even victory wasn't impossible, given that India needed a further 316 runs from the 97 overs scheduled for the final day.

"It's evenly poised," he said, speaking after the fourth day's play. "But we must keep in mind that this is the second Test of the series, and so far, neither side has managed to score 300 runs in a day's play. The weather will also be a factor.

"We have not had 90 overs of play on a single day in this match. As a team, we are looking forward to tomorrow's play. We will stay positive. We'll see how the situation is at tea time. What we do after that depends on what position the team is in at that point. The way we bat till tea will be very important."

Mark Boucher's assertion that South Africa were confident of rolling over the Indians inside two sessions drew a brusque response - "If I was a South African cricketer, I wouldn't say that we would bowl India out inside 50 overs" - and Dhoni emphasised that India wouldn't approach the situation defensively. "Can we survive? Why not? It's a fair enough wicket. If you can keep the good balls out, it should make for a good day's cricket. We're not merely looking at saving the Test or defending."

He was less positive about the bruising on the right middle finger, which caused him to grimace on more than one occasion out in the field. "I can't show it to you," he said with a big grin. "The good news is that it's not broken. I'm in a position to bat, and there are still three days to go before the next Test."

He was candid when asked about his shot selection throughout the course of this series. "In this match, the shot I played in the first innings [which gave Mornè Morkel a first Test wicket] could have been avoided," he said. "If I cut out the cover drive, I will be in a position to score more for the team."

He also refused to be too critical when asked about Virender Sehwag's fallow run, which continued today with his dismissal for 8. "It's part and parcel of the game," he said. "With the new Kookaburra ball, there have been one or two early breakthroughs in every innings. A lean patch happens to everyone. If you get a good ball, you get out. There's no pressure on the middle order because one batsman fails. It depends on how the top order shapes up as a group."

If they don't shape up on Saturday, a series that started with Cinderella-like success at the Wanderers might just end up looking like the ugly sister's face.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo