South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 2nd day December 27, 2010

We expected India to bounce back - de Villiers

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AB de Villiers offered no excuses for South Africa being bundled out for 131 in their first innings against India in Durban. "We batted extremely poorly. There were quite a few soft wickets, but they also bowled well," he said at the end-of-day press conference.

It was as simple as that for the South African number four, who fell to the best delivery Sreesanth bowled all day, a leg-cutter that had him edging to the keeper without scoring. Sreesanth, along with Ishant Sharma, were much better bowlers with the return of India spearhead Zaheer Khan, who made a noticeable impact. "He put us under pressure from the word go," de Villiers said.

de Villiers admitted that India were a more threatening attack than they were in Centurion, where they were unable to dismiss South Africa once. "Their lengths and lines were spot on. They bowled a bit wide to us so we had to leave a few more." The Indian fight back may have been surprising to some, but de Villiers said that South Africa were bracing for some form of revival from the world's top ranked Test side. "You expect the No. 1 team to bounce back after a poor performance. They caught us offside today."

Instead of blaming the Durban pitch, known for its bounce and swing, for a third team total in the 130s in three Tests for South Africa, de Villiers said the inept performance made the pitch look more dangerous that what it was. "18 wickets in the day is not a true reflection of how the wicket is playing. It's playing better than that." He felt that the batsmen simply needed to push on once they got starts. "When you get to 30 or 40 it gets easier. You get used to the pace, bounce and swing. You can set yourself a nice platform and do nicely."

The discomfort the batsmen felt was evident, however, as only Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla managed more than 20 runs. With India batting again, VVS Laxman is primed to be the man who settles in and makes that big score. South Africa are aware that he has the ability to take the game away from them and urge the batsmen around him to do the same. "We've seen him play big knocks for India before under pressure," de Villiers said. "He manages the player at the other end well, who is a youngster at the moment. He is definitely a danger man at the moment."

It's capturing early wickets that South Africa are targeting to prevent Laxman from making himself too comfortable. de Villiers thinks that the bowlers continue to hold advantage as the match goes on, particularly the tweakers. "There's always going to be something in it for the bowlers, even a little bit of spin Harris and Harbhajan both bowled well, getting a bit of bounce and turn. We're just going to have to come out here and get a few early wickets and restrict them to 250, which is very chase-able.

"We would like to chase something in between 240 and 260. After a very poor performance today, we'd like to come out and prove ourselves and play well again. Even if we have to chase 300, we'll give it a good go."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • LazloWoodbine on December 28, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    @Morpheus... There are South African fans on these forums, most of whom are quite happy to accept that we have had a bad couple of days at the office.We also concede that India have played superbly.Tomorrow will see SA try their hardest to turn the game around, and India to force the win. Perhaps you're getting riled by, what seems to me at least, a large community of "neutral" fans who are very critical of India. Here in SA we love our sport, but also understand that cricket is merely a game. A light-hearted pasttime in comparision with life's real issues. It's really not worth getting so upset about guys. We all want to win, but can't always.Passion for the game is one thing, blind patriotism is another. We love hosting all Test nations here, and appreciate the flair that India bring to the game. No-one that I've spoken to is slagging off India or getting as angry as some folk on here. @ Quazar - great comment. Sums it up perfectly!

  • anranga1 on December 28, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    @Imaginext, I like Sachin/Dravid a lot, but I agree with much of what you say. The focus after the 1st test was entirely Sachins innings rather than the bad loss. There were brilliant knocks from SA & not much was spoken (a fact referred to by Kallis). Its a pity that over the last decade & half most Indian batsmen have failed in situations like the one in the two tests here.

  • Arok on December 28, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Come on guys! every match is important you cannot expect sachin to score centuries in all the matches; he has scored 7 centuries in this year; is that not enough? may be the century in the previous innings is on a losing cause but still we lost with atleast some pride. Pls keep in mind we have other 10 players in the side to contribute also. Sachin is not a God, a mere human being. It feels really bad even Indian supporters prick Sachin.

  • anver777 on December 28, 2010, 10:53 GMT

    De Villiers is spot on...... knew exactly that the India will come hard at u......... its proving right now !!!!! in the on going 2nd test where India is setting a tough target for SA to win the match............

  • Arrow011 on December 28, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    SACHIN & SEHWAG NO. 1 , LAXMAN NO.2, GAMBHIR & DRAVID 3, DHONI IS 4, HARBHAJAN & ZAK 5th IN CONTRIBUTING TO INDIA'S SUCCESS. Invariable Sachin & Sehwag only contribute so dont blame. Laxman is "Sankat mochan" in which he is the greatest.

  • dummy4fb on December 28, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    @Imaginext "wonder why the fans/media do not have the courage to talk about this. "

    the answer to this is...... "TU HAI NA!!!!!!"

  • cNuuu on December 28, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    No matter what the records have been made by batsman.. how the batsman stands in the toughest situation to make the team to surive is very important!!! Laxman would have done most of the times than sachin. If sachin is god for cricket, is he the most responsible for india to make to team#1 today. just he is one of the good players. sachin has played most number of matches than anyone in both test and ODI, obviously he has more chance to make records..even sachin has 34 ducks next to only one i.e..,zaheer.. they are huge number of best players like bradman/ lara/ ponting/ mcgrath/ warne/ kallis... wonder, why the people dont think this..

  • WhipSy on December 28, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    To all the numpties moaning about Sachin not winning matches for India, this should give you some perspective: Tendulkar figures in 60 Tests for a winning cause - the most by a batsman from the sub-continent. His average of 69.03 for a winning cause is the second highest amongst the batsmen with 5,000 runs or more - 5454 in 95 innings, including 20 centuries. The first is shepherd-the-tail Steve Waugh with 69.46 :)

  • dummy4fb on December 28, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    @Imaginext: Ur statements sounds irrelavant to each other. If u say Sachin doesnt perform when Team needs him, then what about the runs he scored last Test. Just because it is for a losing cause, doesnt mean Team doesnt need those runs. Any situation bad r gud, team always need runs/wickets from its members. And regarding his stewardship, better see Laxman's innings today(which is anyway going to b a best innings accoridng to u) He is not reluctant to take singles in first ball or score doubles in last ball.. Thats how the game is and the greats you have mentioned(including Laxman) have played it.. Smith's comment are nothing but just to create a panic.

  • dummy4fb on December 28, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    @Indianpunter funny.. really if not Dravid who ? Raina ?

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