South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 1st day December 26, 2010

'Anything above 250 a good score' - Laxman

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Just one cursory look at the scorecard is enough to leave India disappointed. And no, it's not the final score of 183 for 6 that they will rue that much. The genesis of their regret lies in individual scores. On a day that perhaps every batsman applied himself better than he did in similar - if not slightly less testing - conditions in Centurion, not one batsman fell for a single-figure score, and yet nobody crossed 38.

It could be a positive sign for them too, in that the conditions seem to be such that nobody can ever feel settled in here, but it will be premature to arrive at that conclusion. Legend has it that when the sun beats down on the Kingsmead pitch, it becomes a flat belter. Going by how South Africa have got every small thing right at the right moments over the six days of this series - the bowling, the batting, the freak catches, the tosses - who will bet against a gloriously sunny day when their turn to bat comes? Which is why, although India are one handy partnership away from what seems a par score in day-one conditions, VVS Laxman, who looked in as much control as was possible with the ball seaming around, was left dissatisfied.

"The bowlers are always going to be in with a chance because this is one of those wickets," Laxman said. "Having said that, it would have been ideal if one of the batsmen had carried on and remained unbeaten on 60 or 70 at the end of the day. All of us got starts but were not able to convert that into a big score. That was a bit disappointing."

Laxman suggested that the pitch, in terms of bounce and pace, was truer, but he didn't expect it to flatten out as the one in Centurion did. "The wicket here is much quicker and the bounce is also more. The Centurion wicket was soft and slow. I think the conditions will remain the same at least for three days here. In Centurion, because of the heat, the wicket really eased out."

The conditions, though, are not in India's hands. Nor is the toss for that matter. India have now won just one out of their last 15, and Laxman admitted it would have been a good toss to win. "When you're playing international cricket you have to take whatever challenge comes your way. It would have been great to have bowled first on this wicket. But the toss is something you cannot control."

Every batsman in the top order showed the restraint and application to face up to the challenge in front of him, but they all found ways to not convert those starts. India could certainly have avoided giving Lonwabo Tsotsobe his two wickets. Sachin Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara made mistakes on the day. Tendulkar pushed away from the body without intent, and Pujara hooked unconvincingly. Laxman, who was out to an incredible catch that Tsotsobe produced at straight midwicket, said the quick wickets of Rahul Dravid and him were a turning point. .

"It would have been ideal [to have lost two wickets fewer], Rahul and I were out in quick succession. It was important that both of us carried on our partnership. That would have put a lot of pressure on the South African bowlers and the team.

"I think how we start tomorrow will be very important. Anything above 250 will be a good score, assuming the conditions remain the same."

Laxman said he had enough confidence in the lower order to take them to a fighting total. "I'm sure they will give their best, because, as I've always mentioned, they take a lot of pride in their batting. Over the years, all of them have delivered for as at the right moment - as recently as the New Zealand series where Bhaji made two brilliant centuries and put us right on top. I'm sure the lower order will contribute, work really hard and not throw away their wickets."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    all credit goes to Indian bowlers who actually played a major role in this victory...and coming to batting of India (so called best top in the world) played to badly and made team to slip in such situation where they are meant to fight badly at last , in my opinion if laxman was `t there then Indian situation would be something different from what now....any how past is past and am sure for one thing that India is going to face tough situation in front if they dint make come back in there batting standards.

  • LazloWoodbine on December 29, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    @ Anand Varadarajan - No, that's cricket. I'd guess that most "neutral" and "SA" fans (we don't refer to ourselves as SAffers, by the way....) are probably from other countries but happy to put the boot in whenever India does badly. As a SAn I think India have quite simply outplayed us. They're a very good side, and all credit to them. Losing this game doesn't suddenly make SA rubbish - as many folk here will probably happily suggest in the next few days - anymore than losing the First Test made India rubbish. We batted poorly, but India also bowled superbly. In a situation like this I have always thought it better to compliment the opposition than to whine about how unfair it was one lost the toss/ the weather was poor/ our batsmen suck etc. Accepting defeat with grace and good manners is important. Well played India, now on to the Third Test!

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    Very strange. There no comments from the so called "neutral" & impartial guys after SA folded for 131. there is natural justice in the fact that they were out for less than 136.

  • devasa on December 28, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    "You have to have the basics and good foundation that you know will hold up under pressure and right now I don't think some have done the hard work.

    "They are opening their front leg up and playing a lot of shots front-on to the bowler. I think in a tough situation you have to be side on, leave the ball and play with soft hands and they are not really doing it."

    Former Australia captain Steve Waugh on Australia's batsmen, the Cricket Show.

    Same applies to India

  • dummy4fb on December 27, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Its unbelievable how India bashers jump at any statement made by a player and try to interpret in their own way. I must say though that I agree with you guys that 250 is not a good score its a gigantic score on this pitch!! The way SA has fared here 150 was a good score LOL.. There is a reason why India is no 1 and not the teams you support, its not home advantage any such thing but its character, hope your teams inculcate that by watching and learning. Cheers, Gopes

  • Raj12345 on December 27, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    Vijay, Puraja should be removed from team, since Sachin, Shewag, Dravid & Laxman scored 100 runs in both innings in bowling friendly pitch in 2nd test. It is time to bring Rahane and ask him to open test and so that we can put him in trouble to permanently secure place for Gambhir.

    Common, Rahane is solid guy, people want to see him in middle order to fill one of the Big 3. Be calm and time comes for him. He will not be same like Badri, here selectors hate Badri not fans.

  • Messyinamess on December 27, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    Seeing India play the way it did the last day was disappointing to say the least. We could have Pujara for Raina, a for b, x for z..etc.. but nothing is going to change without the whole of the team performing and rising to the occasion. I would wish the hype that revolves around the team dies down. The issues over overseas and subcontinent pitches have remained for ages, and they do just as they did eons ago. We have nothing to expect or improve but watch the game as they are being played, for the sake of money and only that.

  • vinodnevgi on December 27, 2010, 10:12 GMT

    Toss is a factor no doubt...but Indian batsmen should showed some patience & application at this level.. as legends say "Give the first hour to the bowler and have the rest 5 hours your way as a batsmen" its good to be positive but these guys are playing with loads of runs behind their back...shot selection (leaving the ball, knowing their off stump is the key) & temperament ..its a series for maost going to be the last one & we should see a lot more character from the seniors

  • JustOUT on December 27, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    Zaheer is staring as if he is Steyn. He looks like brother of Sreesanth. haha.

  • kevinpp24 on December 27, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    Common guys!! Aussies all out for 98 under similar conditions, but they are not blaming the toss or overcast conditions. Go through Micheal Clarke's day1 press conference. Grow up!!!

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