South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 3rd day December 18, 2010

'It will be hard for South Africa to get us out' - Gambhir

India have turned up. They are two days late, but they have turned up and it is good to finally watch a contest in the series. India still need to bat for the best part of five sessions to get out of Centurion with the series scoreline undamaged, and they will need all the help they can muster from the rain, which started about 40 minutes after the end of the third day's play. But Gautam Gambhir believes his opening partnership with Virender Sehwag has shown the dressing room they can save the match.

Facing a 484-run first innings deficit, Gambhir and Sehwag put together a 137-run opening stand - more than India's entire first-innings total - and Gambhir reached 80 before he was out lbw to Dale Steyn.

"I think it is a very flat track and it's just a matter of hanging in there, and taking the sessions one by one," Gambhir said. "Apart from the first day when we lost the toss and the wicket did a lot, this has been a good pitch for batting. It's going to be hard for the South Africans to get us out. We have batted well in the second innings, so far, and we have got the batting in the side that can pull off a positive result."

Gambhir has saved a Test for India before when they needed to bat out more than two days. In Napier, during India's tour of New Zealand in March 2009, he batted for 436 minutes to take India to safety, and he said he tried to draw from that experience while batting on Saturday. "It's a different attack and we have got far more time to play out here, but it does give you that confidence when you have already done it once.

"Unfortunately it didn't happen on this occasion, but I have confidence the rest of the side can pull off a draw. If we can draw this Test, we can turn this series in our favour."

Minutes before bad light brought the day to an early end, Gambhir missed out on what would have been his sixth second-innings century. He was trapped in front by a ball that seemed to stay low, but felt the pitch didn't hold too many terrors. "It has started keeping a bit low and there is a bit of inconsistent bounce, but not that much. The wicket is not too fast either."

India wouldn't want to think too much about the weather, but they might get some assistance from the clouds. It started raining minutes after the teams left the stadium, and there are more showers forecast for the fourth day of the match.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments