India in South Africa / News

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

'Can we survive? Why not?' - Dhoni

Dileep Premachandran at Durban

December 29, 2006

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

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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