South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 5th day December 20, 2010

Smith surprised by India's fifth-day approach


Graeme Smith expected more of a fight from India on the final morning, and was surprised at how easily the last two wickets came. Perhaps, it had something to do with the fact that after a comprehensive Test win, two of the three questions that came Smith's way were about Sachin Tendulkar. Smith chose to be brutally honest. The stage for that tone was set when Jacques Kallis was asked why he didn't applaud for Tendulkar's century even as every other South African did. Smith's bemused look told a story then.

And two questions later, when Smith was asked to rate Tendulkar's century, he let rip. "It gets difficult," Smith said. "The guy has scored 50 Test hundreds, it's hard to rate. He started scoring Test hundreds probably before I can remember. Under pressure, being able to score runs is always a good feather in your cap. [However] I must be honest I was a bit surprised he made life so easy for us this morning. That did surprise me a little bit. But otherwise, yesterday his partnership with MS Dhoni was [good] … I think MS probably needs some credit for that also because if he didn't hang around, Sachin probably wouldn't have got his 50th. That partnership in general was the one time that they really stood up in the game."

On the final morning, with India's last two wickets needing 30 runs to avoid an innings defeat, Tendulkar didn't farm the strike. He exposed Sreesanth and, after his dismissal, Jaidev Unadkat to the fiery quicks, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Sreesanth fell when he was given three balls to face from Morkel, and Unadkat when he had to deal with an entire over from Steyn.

Smith also took a dig at Harbhajan Singh when rating Paul Harris' performance. "Paul was brilliant you know," Smith said. "If you compare him to Harbhajan, the way he controlled the game for us was brilliant. Paul gets written off every series, whether it is the opposition, or the media, everyone seems to bad-mouth him or write him off. He always seems to find a key way to do something for us, to allow other people to do big things. In our dressing room, too, he plays a big part."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhammed on December 23, 2010, 21:32 GMT

    I can't stop laughing at the comments posted against best batsman ever. Looks like they are over-excited and has no clue what is real cricket, many Indians do not. This is not a tennis or any other single handed game. All 11 has to play as a team. Forget about discussion of how gr8 the Master Blaster is because nobody amongst knowing good cricket has any doubt on this and he is incomparable. The fact is, this man is the top scorer of both innings and still getting abused??? What a shame! Come on, make up your mind, idiots!

    Don't post your foolish comments just you got account in Cricinfo and know the language. Go learn Cricket before making statements!

  • Dummy4 on December 23, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    Well, All the talkers of Attitude and pride, hold your horses. Guys, everyone knew immediately after Herbhajan's wicket that this is the end. It was never about losing by this much margin or something else. Maybe there will be other strategies in Dhoni and co.'s mind. Thats why Sachin exposed the tailendars. You cant tell everything by just sitting in front of television. And sorry to say, cause simth has let me to say this but, the above comment has come from member of one of the all time CHOKERs team, who has given up most of the time when it was too easy for them or when it mattered. Does smith has any excuses for that? OR Does anyone questioned their ability on that? Its high time that let the other team define their strategies and ways. About Sachin's attitude, everyone nowadays is searching chances to blame him. Dont know why? Even I was surprised by Sachin's move. But we have the whole two tests to see how Sachin and Co. justify their decisions. Any takers?

  • Anil on December 23, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    That was definitely team strategy or influence of laxman. On hindsight we can always say that some other strategy might have worked.

    I think Gary/Dhoni/Sachin/Laxman were thinking like this: "If at all Sachin can try and shield Sree & co it would be only for some part of the day not all. Let Sree & co get to play some deliveries before the new ball is taken. An that is our "best" way to draw the match. All the other approaches are second best"

    I would generally like the top order batsman to shield the lower order (10 & 11) batsman though and take most of the strike especially in SA conditions.

  • Sanjay on December 23, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    @oman20101982 Thanks for being so concerned about your Indian "brothers".Its only some of them that call sachin as god.Trust me if u ever come to India there are lot of people who dislike sachin.Sadly anyone who says something in favour of sachin on here is slotted as a worshipper,cant we simply be fans ??This goes for you too NISH67. Its been 670 comments since and defending tail enders for 98 overs still remains impossible regardless of what one says.I doubt it would have snow balled into a issue if there was any other player instead of Sachin.

  • divya on December 23, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    I will tell all Indians smthng..remember this ..n dont forget... In 1999 ,wen Lara made the famous so called mtch winning knock of 153 against Aussies at Barbados, U guys hv any idea about how many singles did Lara take even in that crunch situation and give the strike to 9 th and 10 th batsman to face Mc Grath and Gillespie? West Indies needed 3 runs to win and Lara was on the striking end and Walsh on the other end n WI were already 9 wickets down..n wen Mc Grath bolwed to Lara ,lara took a single ..n made Walsh(last wicket ) to face Glen Mc Grath..who?? listen again Glen Mc Grath...thnk god Walsh faced Glen Mc Grath for the rest of the over...n wen Lara took the strike in the next over...then he hit the winning shot... .. the moral of the story is ..IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY BATSMAN ON THIS PLANET TO TAKE A SINLGE AT THE END OF EVERY OVER AND RETAIN STRIKE FOR THE NEXT ONE/TO PLAY ALL THE BALLS WITHOUT GIVING STRIKE TO THE TAIL ENDERS...THSE THINGS HAPPEN..

  • Andrew on December 22, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    @ sachinlegend - nobody rates Lara's 400 as his best innings, it's very rarely talked about, his double hundreds are much more worthy of discussion. Dissappointing that if someone says something less than praisworthy of SRT - they are then labelled a "Sachin Hater".

  • divya on December 22, 2010, 23:25 GMT

    stop blaming tendulkar..always u ppl try to find faults in this gr8 man..he did a lot to India..n btw wht did laxman n dravid contribute wen India really needed them? No one has guts to answer ….take it easy guys..after all he is Sachin Ramesh tnedulkar..the name itself speaks volumes.. lara got lucky and tendulkar didnt... n smith was just tryin to say sachin made a mistake thereby attacking his self confidence for the next is a tactic...hope Indians think with brain ..

  • Cricinfouser on December 22, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    I agree with wat a reader said.Why did people not criticise VVS Laxman wen he exposed Ishant Sharma to the Australian bowlers?Bcos v won de match.Oderwise the story wud hav been different.I dont hold any grudge against Laxman but I can't help but ask:'Where was India's so calld 2nd innings saviour in this match when we needed him?'India wud have lost by,say,an innings and 200 odd runs had it not been for SRT and Dhoni innings.So I find it more graceful to lose by an innings and 25 runs.While most of u were thinking about making SA bat again I think Sachin was thinking of saving the match along with the tailenders which is why he exposed them.In the long run it wud help them to gain confidence by facing Steyn and Morkel.

  • shrikant on December 22, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    the whole world knows south africa's history no one in the world respect their team came back in 1992 had done nothing special chokers and passing some silly comment don't get over exicted you are winning matches because of your bowlers not batsman... look at kalis strike rate 43 at that rate you lose matches rather than winning it ....... kalis is a truly a

  • shrikant on December 22, 2010, 13:43 GMT

    an innings defeat or 10 wicket loss dosen't matter ind had loss the match on 1st day not on 5th day why you people are not thinking..? and so called sa captain don't get over excited passing such a silly comment. and all the peoples in this blog if styen and morkel had not taken those 20 wickets there were no result possible and kalis 200had gone wasted. so stop saying sachin is not match winning player our ind's bowling is mediacore nothing in that bowling line up hope zak's return will make some diffrence......!

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