South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day December 29, 2010

South Africa's Durban blues

South Africa have lost their last three Test matches in Durban, but their captain Graeme Smith can't seem to figure out why
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Once; it can be considered an unhappy accident. Twice; it's starting to look a little suspicious. But three times? It's a problem. The last thing South Africa want is to carry around another unflattering label, but it seems as though they've earned one. The Durban ducks. Sitting ducks that is.

For three consecutive Tests, South Africa have been shot down at Kingsmead. All three times they were undone by the opposition's bowling attack. Two seasons ago, Mitchell Johnson did the damage, last season Graeme Swann and this time an Indian bowling attack, spearheaded by Zaheer Khan. There's just got to be something about Durban that snags the South Africa batsmen, something that suddenly makes a home ground appear totally foreign to men that play on it at least once a year.

Kingsmead has a unique combination of bounce and swing that can't be found at any other venue in South Africa, and perhaps even around the world. It is the bounciest track in the country, has a fair bit of pace, and, with the humidity around, is also a great facilitator of swing. What that means is that, unless the sun has been out in full force for a substantial amount of time, scoring runs is quite a difficult task.

Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, knows this. "It was a wicket that you needed to graft hard on. It was a tough wicket to bat freely on. You really needed to grind things out," he said at the post-match press conference. Every batsman and even most bowlers interviewed before and during this Test match had one word to summarise how anyone should approach batting on this track: patience. VVS Laxman even provided a demonstration during both India's innings of how to approach playing here. South Africa, barring Ashwell Prince's 39 off 108 balls, could not do the same.

They were undone in their first innings by a class act from Zaheer, who doesn't have express pace but is able to move the ball and use variation to his advantage. Harbhajan Singh was always going to be a threat on a bouncy wicket, as those are the pitches he most enjoys, and he was successful in both innings. The biggest surprise for South Africa came from Sreesanth, who removed Smith with a combination of hostile bowling and hostile talking and then dismissed Jacques Kallis with a steeply bouncing ball that he had no choice but to fend to gully.

It proved that it's not just the Indians who struggle to cope with extra bounce; it's the South Africans too. Perhaps it's simply a case of any batsman anywhere in the world being uncomfortable with too much bounce because pitches have become much tamer over the years.

Bounce looked like one of the chief culprits of South Africa's poor batting performance, but Smith was adamant that it's not that factor that has been their nemesis at Durban over the years. "I don't think it's been the pace and bounce in the last few Tests. We've played well at the Wanderers and other places around the world." Smith wouldn't even concede that Zaheer exposed South Africa to be as vulnerable against the moving ball as they thought India would be. All Smith admitted was that movement played a role in last season's poor performance. "There was reverse swing against England."

Smith's firm belief is that South Africa "just haven't played well in Durban." Besides admitting that there was poor shot selection and that "we were a little bit loose at times", he would go no further. "It's as simple as that." But is it?

South Africa came into this Test match bullish after their thrashing of India in Centurion. They were convinced that they had unlocked the key to India's weakness once again - the short ball, a responsive pitch and some riled up seamers. They thought Durban would offer up much of the same. Like India, South Africa had two days off before preparing for the match, but unlike India, they didn't feel as though they would have to answer for themselves and their ranking in world cricket, and so maybe, they didn't need to care as much.

South Africa knew Zaheer would be back, but they didn't seem to adjust to that reality until after his destructive first-innings performance. He is unplayable when he gets things right on his day, but South Africa didn't offer much fight early on. They improved in the second innings, when conditions were better to bat on, but they still played some careless shots. Smith and Co. acknowledged they weren't good enough. Whether they know why they weren't is another question, one that may only be answered the next time they come to Kingsmead.

No doubt, South Africa will go to Cape Town smarting. It's a venue where they have a good record and where the pitch often favours batsmen. It's likely to be hard and flat, although there will be some moisture around that may provide some swing. The more batsman-friendly conditions will give them some comfort, but not too much. The knowledge that India are much better away from home than they were three years ago should keep South Africa on edge.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 2, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Sehwag out of South Africa one- dayers Dec 30, 2010: Virender Sehwag has been rested from the one-day series in South Africa due to a shoulder injury, but he will play in the deciding Test in Cape Town starting Sunday

  • Kalpav on December 31, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    @ HostileJ: agreed SA is a very good side. But everyone should agree SA has not won any major title and they always loose matches in tight situations and cannot hold any pressure. Be it JK, GS or AB. Name any player in SA. India already proved that they can win title on any soil, any geographic location. Remember the T20 title they won in SA. Dude come out of reality but i too agree after the retirement of the present champs what would be the India's position but that is future but lets talk about the present. It happens to any team and India is no exception. Hope we should all agree to this fact and FACT is a FACT. Happy New Year.

  • HostileJ on December 31, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    @Farooq Ronnie C Shumba:brilliant comment.fully agree!I'm sorry to say this but India seem to be the only team in the world benefitting from NOT using UDRS.I wonder why..Secondly,for all u guys that say SA/Aus cant play on bouncy wickets but India can,u guys need to wake up.Yes,in the last week 2 results didnt go the way of SA & Aus but that is not because the wickets were bouncy (MCG is not anything out of the ordinary).I'd give the credit to good bowling (if anything).India cant play on bouncy tracks,period.thats been proven over and over.1 test doesnt change that.I mean its not like they scored 600 or anything.If it wasnt for laxman and a few decisions going India's way SA would have wrapped this test by lunch time day 5.My prediction for Cape Town is SA to win.Bhajji,Steyn,Khan and Harris will be the pick of the bowlers.Biff & JK will make runs for SA.They love newlands!Dravid will be the pick for India...maybe sehwag as well.It will be a great game to watch..but SA must take it!

  • arnavred on December 30, 2010, 16:32 GMT

    I hope ang guess India win emphatically at Capetown.. All the best India..you deserve..Don't care about the comments made by some amateures.. let it go...

  • vpk23 on December 30, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    HI BOYS.. COVERT THIS FIGHTING WIN HERE INTO A AN EMPHATIC SERIES WIN IN CAPE TOWN...LETS CAP IT OFF AT CAPE TOWN.

  • RealPablo on December 30, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    I find most fan comments here - Indian and otherwise- fairly depressing. Instead of focusing on and enjoying the cricket, they spend most of the time moronically trying to insult others and most of them seem to have very little grasp of the game or the mindset players who play the game. We have just seen a great test match in Durban, and we should really be talking about the perfect pitch and conditions that tested the players to their limits - PROPER TEST MATCH CRICKET FOR WHICH THERE CAN BE NO SUBSTITUTES. We should try and enjoy and learn from this, and not spend our time abusing the opposition captain or fans. BTW, I hope the Indian selectors stop their insane experiment with Raina and make Pujara a permanent fixture in the side.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 30, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    ha ha ha wher is diri ? his - Good for nothing team lost in a bowling pitch to a school team bowling attack (as per him)...lol

  • candyfloss on December 30, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Clinical performance by India.The rumour mill says that a green pitch is now unlikely in the last test.Totally outplayed the South africans on this one.Go India.

  • HostileJ on December 30, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    @AvidCricFan:have to agree with you.India is a wonderful side with some wonderful players,but I fear (for India's sake) the day Dravid,SRT,VVS and Zak retires.India will (perhaps) be at nr.1 for a little while,but after that Eng and SA will be top of the charts.SA's team is VERY inexperienced compared to India.its not an excuse..hell..SA thumped India by an inns at Centurion..but SA will soon have the most formiddable side in the world.Smith,Petersen,Amla,DeVilliers, Duminy, Ingram,Miller,Steyn,Morkel,Parnell,Tsotsobe,Mclaren are all between 25 and 29 and then guys like Rilee Rossouw,Faf Du plessis,Dean Elgar,Davey Jacobs,CJ De villiers (to name a few) havent even seen test cricket!We dont mind losing to India now.we respect them cos they have some of the best cricketers the world has ever seen and a wonderful side to go with that..but beware..Biff and the boys will be up there very VERY soon!Dont write off Eng either..great side and very well balanced!a force to be reckoned with!!

  • Cricket_4_Blood on December 30, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    Fortunes favours the brave & India win by luck. Actually India did not take wickets but the Proteas gave away the wickets, for e.g. Smith's & Amla's two lose shots. When the bowler is Sreesant itself everyone can imagine that the batsmen must have given away their wickets cause Sreesant is not at all a player who should be playing at int'l level. Perhaps the Proteas must have purposely lost the match in order to boost the Indian team so that they can have a challenging contest in the final test. INDIA LOSING THE FINAL TEST IS FOR SURE! CHEERS!

  • on January 2, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Sehwag out of South Africa one- dayers Dec 30, 2010: Virender Sehwag has been rested from the one-day series in South Africa due to a shoulder injury, but he will play in the deciding Test in Cape Town starting Sunday

  • Kalpav on December 31, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    @ HostileJ: agreed SA is a very good side. But everyone should agree SA has not won any major title and they always loose matches in tight situations and cannot hold any pressure. Be it JK, GS or AB. Name any player in SA. India already proved that they can win title on any soil, any geographic location. Remember the T20 title they won in SA. Dude come out of reality but i too agree after the retirement of the present champs what would be the India's position but that is future but lets talk about the present. It happens to any team and India is no exception. Hope we should all agree to this fact and FACT is a FACT. Happy New Year.

  • HostileJ on December 31, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    @Farooq Ronnie C Shumba:brilliant comment.fully agree!I'm sorry to say this but India seem to be the only team in the world benefitting from NOT using UDRS.I wonder why..Secondly,for all u guys that say SA/Aus cant play on bouncy wickets but India can,u guys need to wake up.Yes,in the last week 2 results didnt go the way of SA & Aus but that is not because the wickets were bouncy (MCG is not anything out of the ordinary).I'd give the credit to good bowling (if anything).India cant play on bouncy tracks,period.thats been proven over and over.1 test doesnt change that.I mean its not like they scored 600 or anything.If it wasnt for laxman and a few decisions going India's way SA would have wrapped this test by lunch time day 5.My prediction for Cape Town is SA to win.Bhajji,Steyn,Khan and Harris will be the pick of the bowlers.Biff & JK will make runs for SA.They love newlands!Dravid will be the pick for India...maybe sehwag as well.It will be a great game to watch..but SA must take it!

  • arnavred on December 30, 2010, 16:32 GMT

    I hope ang guess India win emphatically at Capetown.. All the best India..you deserve..Don't care about the comments made by some amateures.. let it go...

  • vpk23 on December 30, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    HI BOYS.. COVERT THIS FIGHTING WIN HERE INTO A AN EMPHATIC SERIES WIN IN CAPE TOWN...LETS CAP IT OFF AT CAPE TOWN.

  • RealPablo on December 30, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    I find most fan comments here - Indian and otherwise- fairly depressing. Instead of focusing on and enjoying the cricket, they spend most of the time moronically trying to insult others and most of them seem to have very little grasp of the game or the mindset players who play the game. We have just seen a great test match in Durban, and we should really be talking about the perfect pitch and conditions that tested the players to their limits - PROPER TEST MATCH CRICKET FOR WHICH THERE CAN BE NO SUBSTITUTES. We should try and enjoy and learn from this, and not spend our time abusing the opposition captain or fans. BTW, I hope the Indian selectors stop their insane experiment with Raina and make Pujara a permanent fixture in the side.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 30, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    ha ha ha wher is diri ? his - Good for nothing team lost in a bowling pitch to a school team bowling attack (as per him)...lol

  • candyfloss on December 30, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Clinical performance by India.The rumour mill says that a green pitch is now unlikely in the last test.Totally outplayed the South africans on this one.Go India.

  • HostileJ on December 30, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    @AvidCricFan:have to agree with you.India is a wonderful side with some wonderful players,but I fear (for India's sake) the day Dravid,SRT,VVS and Zak retires.India will (perhaps) be at nr.1 for a little while,but after that Eng and SA will be top of the charts.SA's team is VERY inexperienced compared to India.its not an excuse..hell..SA thumped India by an inns at Centurion..but SA will soon have the most formiddable side in the world.Smith,Petersen,Amla,DeVilliers, Duminy, Ingram,Miller,Steyn,Morkel,Parnell,Tsotsobe,Mclaren are all between 25 and 29 and then guys like Rilee Rossouw,Faf Du plessis,Dean Elgar,Davey Jacobs,CJ De villiers (to name a few) havent even seen test cricket!We dont mind losing to India now.we respect them cos they have some of the best cricketers the world has ever seen and a wonderful side to go with that..but beware..Biff and the boys will be up there very VERY soon!Dont write off Eng either..great side and very well balanced!a force to be reckoned with!!

  • Cricket_4_Blood on December 30, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    Fortunes favours the brave & India win by luck. Actually India did not take wickets but the Proteas gave away the wickets, for e.g. Smith's & Amla's two lose shots. When the bowler is Sreesant itself everyone can imagine that the batsmen must have given away their wickets cause Sreesant is not at all a player who should be playing at int'l level. Perhaps the Proteas must have purposely lost the match in order to boost the Indian team so that they can have a challenging contest in the final test. INDIA LOSING THE FINAL TEST IS FOR SURE! CHEERS!

  • HostileJ on December 30, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    @aby_manyu:yes very well played India - u deserved this win...but your memory is very short...all I'll say to the world nr.1 side is: "Innings and 25 runs".We'll see you at our fortress here in Cape Town!

  • Seether1 on December 30, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    We as South Africans know that our team is not perfect. There are lots of issues we need to rectify. However indian fans should realise that their team is only a "transitional No. 1". In a year or two, either SA or England will be No 1. When the core of India's batting line-up retires, the team will start crumbling just like Australia.

  • on December 30, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    3 big LBW decisions India would have never won this match if UDRS was in place thats a fact. Zaheer was out and they made 70 Runs together, AB, and Boucher could have scored at least 50 runs minimum between them. UDRS should be implemented in every game to avoid such dubious decisions and tainted victories. Yes the records will show India won but questions about the umpiring will remain because the umpires made a differrence.

  • nkjakajack on December 30, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    its a very simple equation why india are number one...NO TEAM CAN BEAT INDIA in INDIA. No other team can claim that they are unbeatable at home. Plus India have won/drawn series away in most countries, though might not be a dominating performance always!! As long as Sachin, dravid and laxman are there they are going to remain close if not number one.

  • on December 30, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    This was a great win, no doubt about that but I am eagerly waiting for India's bowling combination for the next test at cape town where it is more of a flat dry track contrary to the previous two. Will India go with the same or would they give Ojha a chance at the cost of Sree who opened up the match for India by taking out Kallis or Ishant who has also been equally useful. Smith has been very arrogant with words for the whole series but not with the bat despite his century. Keep winning TEAM INDIA!!!!!!!!

  • vickstricks on December 30, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    So SA was done with bounce aswell..also australia was dismissed for 98 on a fast wicket..so y people are crying india doesnt desev to be no 1 coz they cant play on boncy wicket..everyteam in the world struggkles with bouncy wickets..Also y judge india's no1 status by performance in Aus and SA..if u have to evaluate the performnace then also judge Engands performance in indian sub continenet..Except Aus no other country has won series in indian sub contnt...So india rightly deservs to be NO 1 in Test.. GO INDIA GO.

  • Verleus on December 30, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    Cape Town might be a good venue for SAF,but if it is batting friendly,then i dont see why it should favour them....Indian batting order is much better,and a one on one comparision gives that...Sehwag vs Smith...I think its Sehwag all the way...Peterson vs. Gambhir....maybe a tight one,but Gambhir has a much better record....Dravid vs. Amla....Amla is in great form lately,but dravid on his day is a real world beater....Sachin vs. Kallis...Kallis may be a better cricketer for his all round ability,but as a batsman Sachin wins hands down...VVS vs. AB...AB has lot of flair,and aggression,but Laxman just showed what hes made up of...No 6 is the only spot where SAF do better,with Pujara not havin enof,and Raina being no good,A.Prince is much better,and no 7 is a bit tough,because boucher has a gr8 record to his name,but Dhoni on his day is the most destructive player in the world(except Y.Pathan,Yuvraj and Afridi that is).The only problem with India is that they dont get going together..

  • SibaMohanty on December 30, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    @indianpunter: Hey dude, change your name to dravidhunter. You have nothing else to say but take potshots at him. Enjoy cricket, boy.

  • llchennai on December 30, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    South African coach was spot on when he said before the series to bully India that "The Stats do not lie!". See how SA failed for the third time in three tests in Durban! Proteas thought after the Centurion that a green top will benefit only thier bowlers and paid the price at Durban. Kallis, a top class allrounder, said at that time "India will find the bounce at Durban too much to handle" and yes, it did turn out that way but more for the SA batsmen, thanks to Sreesanth's snorter to Kallis! Moral: reserve your comments for the post-match.

  • gestapo on December 30, 2010, 6:19 GMT

    Stop all this fracas about playing swing and fast bowling,,the fact is that no team is fully adept at standing up to express fast bowlers and swing bowlers on seaming wickets,esp.in overcast conditions. Winning tosses does help too.We all happened how the aussies were bundled out for 98 and how the proteas folded for 131 on pitches that have been tailor made thinking it would play to their advantage. The same with playing on rank turners against good spinners,,and the batsmen who excel consistently in these unfriendly conditions are the so called great ones. And history tells us that many a good batsmen faltered time and again in testing conditions not so conducive for the batsmen. If Indian batsmen are seen as flat track bullies, how did they win this one and SA lose it if they are green top masters,,and if Indian pitches are featherbeds,y do not teams win Tests in India? Y? Y? Y?

  • amoghm on December 30, 2010, 6:15 GMT

    All teams around the world have always struggled to cope up with quality fast bowling, moving balls & bouncy pitches. Its the perception created over the years that Indians do not do well against pace & swing. Maybe that was because India did not have answer to opponents pacers (in bowling department) for many decades. Even in era of Kapil Dev, he mostly operated without any help from other end and hence opposition batsmen were never tested by India really. But for last decade, more often than not India has more than 1 quality fast bowler to humble opponents. However, as seen from Smith's comments, these facts are not well digested by teams. This is time for teams outside sub-continent to re-think about these perceptions and their own abilities. Failing to do so more captains like Smith will follow Ponting's way.

  • on December 30, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    @sean_kelly "Why the South Africans don't stand a foot outside the crease to Khan is beyond me" So, this your advice to Your South African mates ... lol.... What about the injury inflicted to the best of the South African batsmen in bussiness .. i.e Kallis by the snorter from Sreesanth. He could not manage it standing in the crease itself.

  • soza on December 30, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    What is the lesson one gives to beginners to cricket? The aim of the bowling side is to knock out the batsmen by 1) hitting wicket 2) catching them 3) trapping them LBW or 4) running them out. As far as I am concerned any ball that goes above wicket or waist height is negative cricket. Any team that uses the short ball is playing dirty cricket as it has no ability to get the batsmen out using the 4 cardinal rules. Short-pitch bowling is ugly cricket and a cowardly form of play. Never liked it and teams that use it should not complain when they are treated similarly. If 1 short ball is allowed out of 6 is not the same as saying 1 bullet from a six round is a permissible offence? Sanjay, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

  • on December 30, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    Why did India REJECT the Umpire Review System for this Series? Could have made quite a difference @52.6 "Steyn to Khan, 1 run, 143.3 kph, that looked dead and gone," LBW missed by umps, who thought there was inside edge.

    South Africa would have been chasing maybe 30-50 runs fewer. Amla and Kallis have a lot to make up for, after this game, lets hope they are hungry again in Cape Town.

  • Bo_Diddly on December 30, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    India played well; but they were lucky in both innings (some umpiring errors and some very unplayable balls). Graeme Smith is arrogant -- he believes he has the better team (both batting and bowling) -- and this arrogance, i am afraid, is going to let him down. I think the Indian team did target Graeme Smith in the second innings and let Sreesant loose at him. Even as the players walked out for the second inning SA batting Sreesanth was chirping away at Smith. Smith ignored him and even started talking to Laxman. The continued talking, the hurt on the finger from a rising delivery and the sheer belief (arrogance ?) that he is better than this Indian team resulted in Smith losing his wicket. I fear that deep down Hashim Amla feels the same sense of superiority and this will also lead to problems in the final test. Although Amla is much more level-headed. Let us see -- but I fear that the lesser team (India) will win in Cape Town because SA is over-confident.

  • 100_rabh on December 30, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    Fantastic win. wish they had taken Munaf to SA and replaced Ishant with him for the 3rd test. Ishant looks a weak link in an otherwise decent bowling attack. Also if MS has the guts to swap Dravid and Pujara's batting position, no one can bat better than VVS at 5. Guess a quick 100 is due from Sehwag as well. Now everything boils doen to the pitch at Kingsmead, hope to have some light thrown on it by Cricinfo very soon.

  • on December 30, 2010, 4:42 GMT

    For a side that has won only 1 out of their last five series, that too against the out of sorts Windies, South Africa are getting more compliments than they deserve.

  • Chncricfan_2k0 on December 30, 2010, 4:04 GMT

    Incredible come back by Indian team providing the last test loss in Centurion.great team work..Can anyone question about the Indian team potential now.?.so only most suitably they are No. 1..everyone did their job what they supposed to do..there are so many great instances in this match to be remembered for a while..that ripper from Sreesanth to get rid off Kallis, probably the best I think..I hope the team will do the best in Capetown..best of luck India..!

  • Rogue777 on December 30, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    BTW it is funny how the Same Indians fans who says India is Number one because of rankings can not admit that Sanga is the number 1 batsmen because he is ranked number 1! U can't have it both ways! Either say both India and Sanga's ranks are both incorrect or admit they are both correct. Saying one is correct because it favors Indians while the others is not; just exposes your bias and ignorance.

  • Rogue777 on December 30, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    To those who are blaming Srl do you know that Srl LAST played in SA in 2002 DEC! So how can we win when we don't play! Especially as much as India.

    I am extremely annoyed by the continuous SRL bashing done by Indians.

    Do you know why no one takes your number 1 position seriously? It is because you can't win fairly and you criticize and demean other teams unnecessarily. If UDRS were on play this time AB and Boucher would not have being out. And SA would have won the 2nd test. Also if UDRS were there Tendulkar would not have scored his 50th century in the 1st test as he was Plumb LBW to Harris.

    Indian victories are tainted with bad umpiring decisions going in their favor.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 30, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    Ha ha ha...I would like to see some India basher's excuses for this loss. They will not count India's fightback in the 2nd innings of First test and they will say SA will play better on those pitches. So, the flat track bullies beat 'good for nothing' team? LOL..Also, it was clear that SA donot know how to play spin bowling even in a fast bowling pitch...pathetic. So, first sort out your issues and then critizise others. Now guess what will happen if SA were batting in the 1st day of 1st test. They would all out for less than 100. Where is mr.diri? Why your top class bowlers can't win the second match for your team? As I told you, do not under estimate Indian team.

  • on December 30, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    WE WOULD HAVE BATTED BETTER IF WE WERE TO BAT FIRST...

    Ok Mr.Smith eat ur words.......

  • Rajababu on December 30, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    I like juicy tracks, there is nothing better than watch likes of Kallis getting knocked off like a stick cricket bouncer. Loved it! Can't wait to see Steyn, Morkel, Zak and Sree spit venom in Cape town.

  • Hindh on December 30, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    The funny thing is SA tried TO BOUNCE INDIA OUT but the image of the series will be KALLIS ARCHING back and getting out for a snorter from sreesanth. WHAT A COMEBACK INDIA......... TRUE CHAMPS...

  • on December 30, 2010, 2:38 GMT

    I believe if SA prepare a relatively flat and good batting track against India, that gives them the best shot of winning the match. Because they have quality bowlers in Morkel and Steyn who could pick wickets in not so bowler friendly conditions. By preparing spicy wickets they are playing into the hands of Indian bowlers who need some help from the wicket in order to get the 20 wickets. And whatever may be said of the might of SA's batting, it isn't as good as India's. I guess the pitch at Cape Town will have less of grass and will be better for batting and see SA coming on top in such conditions. Because anyone who saw this test would admit there was a difference of class in the bowling units of SA and India. SA bowled better than Ind and Ind batted much batter than SA, especially the first morning when ball was doing crazy stuff.

  • on December 30, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    I think SA missed Duminy too much.......Duminy plays from Mumbai Indians so he must have faced zaheer and harbhajan in the nets and knows their mentality better than any other SA players....and these two bowlers are india's strength. Ashwell is a nice player but he can't take an attack to the opposition...Duminy has the coolent head when conds. get worse

  • on December 30, 2010, 1:41 GMT

    At people questioning Rahul's presence. He is able to frustrate bowlers for hours together. He has the technique and holds up one end for a fair amount of time (though not the way he used to be) and helps the batsman coming behind him. Probably he can play down the order but he is still the most important member of the team.

  • The_Professor on December 30, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    Totally agree with Sunil Thaker on (December 29 2010). SA is nothing if not a well organised unit. SA can compete with Team India only because they are very well organised with good plans and disciplined. Steyn and Kallis aside, SA do not have the same skill and quality of Team India. This is the reason why SA always' CHOKE' in huge matches when other teams lift their game?!

  • shumit on December 30, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    India should be happy about Smith's customary stubborn nature. He simply refuses to acknowledge the truth. His immaturity drives him towards his feeble attempts at the Aussie way of mental disintegration. He craves to be like Steve Waugh, but neither has the grit, nor the talent, nor the resources. And if Steyn fails to play due to some freak accident or some such event, then it will be an innings defeat. If India had batted second at Centurion, they would surely have won. Smith knows this, but won't accept it even to himself. His refusal to come to terms with the truth about his team's weaknesses will get India its first series win in SA.

  • on December 30, 2010, 0:17 GMT

    People like abu_manyu make me embarrassed to be an Indian cricket fan.

  • kiranksl on December 29, 2010, 23:33 GMT

    If its a flat track...Sehwag is going to 'unleash the fury'!!! He's has a relatively quite series so far...watch out SA.

  • braindead_rocker on December 29, 2010, 23:06 GMT

    @phoenixsteve , then who is the no1 and no2 ranked teams in testc ricket according to you? Bermuda and Nepal?

  • on December 29, 2010, 22:56 GMT

    SA team is lucky that In both the test match they won the toss.............................otherwise it was the same results in 1st test too.Indian team has no warm up match and the pitch conditions are made as per SA team needed(tailor made).Now all teams are good be aware of England and Sri lanka team they are also very strong team No2 spot is also becomes very hard to maintain

  • indianpunter on December 29, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Great win by India and surely Smith must be rueing his one too many comments against India in the lead up to the series. India, though, needs to look at the bigger picture at how things can be made better going to capetown. Rahul Dravid's place in the team has to come under very close scrutiny. He does not look like he will make another run. Batting at number 3, he is simply gifting the momentum away. the very least the team management has to do is to promote Laxman to number 3 ( i said this before the start of the series). There are very good replacements in the wings and at 38 he has very little to contribute. As the team has won, his pathetic performance has once again gone under the radar.

  • aby_prasad on December 29, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    Headingley, Jamaica, Nottingham, Johannesburg and Perth AND NOW DURBAN!!!. ANY MORE DOUBTS ON INDIAN PERFORMANCE ABROAD???? ANY MOREEEEE?? WHERE ARE ALL THE ANTI INDIA REMARKS!!!! WHERE ARE YOU GUYS,HUH? at the most you might whine and write about the umpiring or the pitch or whatever you can, THE POINT is, INDIA WON! ALRITE??? ALRITEY THEN. IMMMMMMM LUVING IT !!! THANKYOU CRICINFO (for everything including the main bulletin where you mentioned the cities and thankyou very much for pointing out laxman the great's silent proof that he's the greatest when the team is in crisis

  • Rahulbose on December 29, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    There is no mystery here. Most modern batsmen cannot handle swing. Aus, SA, Ind, Eng all have been bundled out when bowlers find swing and bowl good lines. That is why Steyn has a strike rate below 40 in a batsman dominated era.

    I hope SA prepare another green top in Capetown and this time loose the toss. Would be great to see them bundled out for below 100.

  • cooljack_143 on December 29, 2010, 21:20 GMT

    Without Steyn this SA bowling attack seems to be the same as was Indian attack wothout Zak.So friends please make it a point before you comment on Indian bowling attack.Without steyn SA CANNOT take 20 wickets thats for sure.Remember champions leauge, banglore RC lost due to steyns injury.so much a role Steyn has to play here.The best bolwer for years to come.My hats off to the young HERO..STEYN IS THE BEST..THE BEST..Cheers

  • AvidCricFan on December 29, 2010, 21:12 GMT

    This is a great win for the Indian team in a hostile playing environment. The win was primarily set up by good bowling performance and special batting performance by Laxman. While all this is good for the short term, the long term future is worry some. The worry for the Indian team is indifferent performance of Dravid. He is 38 and lets face it guys, it does not get much better. He should gracefully retire now. Also, SRT may be around for one or two more years and the same for VVS and Zak. India does not have bench ready and capable of replacing these guys. The transition will be tough to handle.

  • gazelle79 on December 29, 2010, 21:12 GMT

    @phoenixsteve , I agree with you that the SA problem isn't terminal , they can play better . But i am disappointed with your comment on the rankings . These same ranking system was in place when Australia ruled world cricket and even when SA challenged them . Even then , a good performance in 1 series or a poor performance in another didn't matter ; it was the big C - consistency over a period of time which determines the no:1 . Whatever else you can argue about , India has been the most consistent team in world cricket over the last 2 years and so they sit on the pedestal .

  • testcricmaniac on December 29, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    Been watching indian batting as closely as anyone and i feel strongly that indian batsmen have masterd all suraces. Durban is not a blip for SA but centurion is a blip for India as Indians had to bat in the worst conditions. Didnt they match SA in the second innings under immense presure? India would have certainly won that test match too and wrapped up the series in Durban had they won the toss. Any bets? SA look good just because they had Steyn, undoubtedly the best in the world. Zaheer is a close second since he is older and doesnt have that pace. Zaheer was bowling in the 140's too before injuries crippled him over the years. So i would rate him higher in terms of bowling skills. Except Raina and to some extent Gambhir who in the batting line up is scared of bouncers? Pujara looks almost comfortable too and this is only his first TEST. Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni, Pujara - none of these batsmen are scared of pace or bounce. They dont have to prove to anyone that.

  • BaigSaqib on December 29, 2010, 21:05 GMT

    Good play by India. They are for sure among top 2 teams in the world right now. I really want to see them scoring 400+ runs on difficult conditions. This match was more won by bowlers than batsmen.

  • gestapo on December 29, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    A few teams are just not able to digest the fact that India has been at the top now.Well,India is definitely not the unconquerable Oz that were until very recently and does have a few weak links. But,what sets this team apart is the ability to bounce back and posing a challenge consistently to all the teams that it has met in these 2 years, esp. shedding that sick tag of `just tourists`. SA tried to play some dirty mind games and its a slap in the face,,had they batted first in Centurion,,they might have lost as well.And people like Sanga saying things about India,,come on,,when did SL ever win outside SL? India is at the top not without a reason and the rankings indicate that India has been the better team among all the teams. The point here is who is performing at this very moment.If you think every no.1 team needs to be the WI of 70s and 80s,Aus of 90s and 2000s,,well no team is and I dont think any team can be as invincible as them. Just sit back and gear up for the next test.

  • phoenixsteve on December 29, 2010, 20:02 GMT

    Disappointing from the Proteas - but not terminal! I expect them to 'bounce' back in the next one and exhibit some hostile pace bowling. Somehow these sides don't look like the No1 and No 2 ranked teams in test cricket? Who are these 'rankings' designed to appease anyhow? I think we know the answer.....

  • TexasCricket on December 29, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    WAY TO GO TEAM INDIA.... this is called toughness. Good work Sreesanth,Zaheer VVS... Go get them in Cape Town..

  • mrgupta on December 29, 2010, 19:43 GMT

    I fail to understand why Captains turns Bullish and stubborn once they Win a test against India. Sanga said some very nasty things and doubted the ranking system. Even after the defeat in the last test he was still adamant on saying that SL was the better team though they were better only in the first test. I can see the same thing here with Smith who after the win in first test said some demeaning things and is still adamant on saying that this was just a one off. Even if it was, even if they go on to Win the series the fact remains that they were beaten on a bouncy pitch which should have been ideal for them to wrap up the series. Gone are the days when Bounce used to be a weapon against India. We have been No.1 for more than an year now and we have in us the will to succeed.

  • on December 29, 2010, 19:19 GMT

    I think complacency was one of the primary causes for South Africa's poor performance in the test. They underestimated Indian bowlers and showed over confidence with their batting strength. As far as the ability to play on bouncy tracks, they are generally better than Indians as they are more used to those kind of pitches than Indians - just similar to Indians performing better than SA on slower tracks. And for the general claims that fast tracks are better for test cricket in general is dubious and possibly a perception created by Aus & SA to gain advantage over sub-continent countries.

  • on December 29, 2010, 19:06 GMT

    indians have the right answer for the SA-- its always good to see fry the opposition with the same pan - For this series - my support is with the indians .

  • Pits76 on December 29, 2010, 18:58 GMT

    IMO, bounce wasn't so much a factor. even in the first test, Indians played the short stuff very well. The key factor has been the swing and seam, and i guess most of us would agree that both teams have lot of trouble facing the moving ball.

    Steyn has been the key bowler for SA, i doubt without him, the rest of the attack is capable of taking 20 indian wickets and so it goes when Zaheer is playing for India.

    Good luck to both teams for Capetown, i hope India can clinch the series

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:51 GMT

    The steep bounce tat had made d difference n non other than our Very Very Special others couldnt judge d bounce n sustain in d crease..hats off laxi..

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:40 GMT

    Waiting 4 the cracker....Long live Test Cricket....

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    These countries like SA, Aus will keep downplaying Zaheer's acumen, and he will keep hunting them. Thats good for us anyway.

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    Where are the SA fans who called Indian flat track bullies

  • tendlya14 on December 29, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    Well South Africans....have humble pie while you are reflecting on this defeat....this has surely got to sting for you...India beat you inspite of a green pitch and you winning the toss. If not for Steyn, it would have been an innings defeat. India never lose after winning the second test of a series...thats a feature of Dhoni's India for some time now...so..Be afraid...be very afraid!!

  • chokkashokka on December 29, 2010, 18:27 GMT

    Lets see, playing at home, winning the toss and bowling first on a sweaty pasture that was is called a cricket pitch by the bushmen - tailored with bounce to suit the bushmen, and loosing!!! I don't call that ducks - I call that prime grade LOSERS!! Why don't the bushmen prepare a remote controlled minefield at Centurion - I bet they will still lose. For all those douche-bags out there, India are the undisputed heavy-weight champions of the world. And all the hooo-haaa about the feather-weight bouts down-under - all I have to say is its duck season over there - wack wack.

  • anoopshameed on December 29, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    I beleive South African team management played right into the hands of India. India always were the better batting side of the two-only somebody who has been reading too many fan mails would have thought otherwise! The Indian batsmen would have faired better than South Africans on a bowling track-not everyone of them are Suresh Raina's. Instead of preparing a lively wicket, they should have made a more even wicket like the 1st Test and backed their bowlers to take the 20 wickets quicker than Indians. On a bowling wicket the pitch helped the Indian bowlers overcome the slight lead their counterparts had over them. After all you can get only one wicket per ball-however good you are!

  • Farce-Follower on December 29, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    Cape Town : MSD to win toss, Sehwag to serve a sizzler, RD to gradually build an epic (hopefully) and the rest need to relax and enjoy. Bat SA out of the game.

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Much balanced Article, after the thrashing from India. Keep it up!!!

  • Quazar on December 29, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Credit to the curator too for producing a really testing pitch. Brilliant test match to round off the year!

  • kool_Indian on December 29, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    [Smith's firm belief is that South Africa "just haven't played well in Durban." Besides admitting that there was poor shot selection and that "we were a little bit loose at times", he would go no further. "It's as simple as that."] - come on Mr. Smith - suck it up now - dont be such a sore loser!

  • sean_kelly on December 29, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    Why the South Africans don't stand a foot outside the crease to Khan is beyond me. He is just medium-fast at his quickest.

    He isn't going to hurt you Smith. Man up and wear a few if you have to. Take him out of the equation and they have nothing. Bhaji only bowls well when Zaheer does. When he has to be the spearhead, he is terrible.

  • bvnathan on December 29, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    WELL DONE, INDIA TEAM and CONGRATULATIONS on a GOOD VICTORY. It is true that SA finds itself at cross-roads with their performance, when Indian bowlers used the conditions admirably well. Hard to ignore Smith inability to admit his team failings, against a well balanced attack spearheaded by Zahir. May be Indian curators can take some cues from these pitches, and prepare similar tracks back in India to be used at Ranji Trophy and other tournaments. This will be an added bonus for the budding cricketers who will form core of TEAM INDIA in the next 3-5 years. Is BCCI or its council of PITCH committee or the bunch of SELECTORS at the helm, willing to take the initiative?

  • baghera on December 29, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    Centurion test - Rub of the green went against India, lost the toss and had to play on a damp first day wicket, which eased out for rest of days, Proteas managed to win it. Durban - Lost the toss again, batted well and put up a good total on bouncy track. Proteas faced the music as the track was consistent and offered bounce all through the match. Bottom line: Indian batsmen are better on any condition compared to the proteas. Leaving a lot of grass thinking indians will fold was foolish, which simply backfired on the home team. Super performance from Indian team... looking forward for the next test... 2-1 india

  • on December 29, 2010, 17:23 GMT

    Thing is bounce n pace n swing undoes every side...nor fr nothing west indies played with a pace quartet when they had 4 high calibre fast bowlers..n not fr nothing Aussies walloped Clive Lloyd side 5-1..when it had both Roberts n Holding (though young..) simply cuz in Lillee n Thomson they had a better attack...

    its just nt about these days...since the time test match cricket match has been played..we hv had feather beds...yes featherbeds...n whenever a good pitch came along teams queued up to fold up fr low scores...

    those who talk of old days with no covering of pitches done...just tell me did they started playing as soon as rain stopped???????no they didnt...

    how cud the gentlemen who used to apply make up before going out to bat play on grounds sodden with rain..:P

  • since7 on December 29, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    A bold and well thought out article.I remember during the 2002 new zealand tour,fleming made high talk about indians not being able to cope up with seaming conditions.But the reality was that kiwis werent any better with them.IT was only because indians were worse could fleming come out and make such talk(infact kwis performed as badly when they lost the toss).Smith seems to talk the same way.The harsh reality is that none of the teams as a whole bat with fluency under such conditions.South africans were exposed to an extent in durban.Under conditions with LIMITED amount of help for the seamers,indians tend to struggle at times but when the conditions are tough as they were at durban,indians are as good in competing as their aussie or protean counterparts are.

  • kaarthik9925 on December 29, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    If green tops are acknowledged so should the dust bowls.We want good quality cricket thats all.

  • on December 29, 2010, 17:10 GMT

    He jus cannot digest what had happened... When he wakes up tmrw, he would have much clear brain and may well be understood hw his team was outplayed today.... I never tot even South Africans cant play bounce well.. I tot they are champions in bouncy tracks.. But they proved that they are jus a bunch of over-hyped cricketers wit few exceptional class players lik amla, kallis... Their no2 spot will soon be lost to either england or sri lanka..

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  • on December 29, 2010, 17:10 GMT

    He jus cannot digest what had happened... When he wakes up tmrw, he would have much clear brain and may well be understood hw his team was outplayed today.... I never tot even South Africans cant play bounce well.. I tot they are champions in bouncy tracks.. But they proved that they are jus a bunch of over-hyped cricketers wit few exceptional class players lik amla, kallis... Their no2 spot will soon be lost to either england or sri lanka..

  • kaarthik9925 on December 29, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    If green tops are acknowledged so should the dust bowls.We want good quality cricket thats all.

  • since7 on December 29, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    A bold and well thought out article.I remember during the 2002 new zealand tour,fleming made high talk about indians not being able to cope up with seaming conditions.But the reality was that kiwis werent any better with them.IT was only because indians were worse could fleming come out and make such talk(infact kwis performed as badly when they lost the toss).Smith seems to talk the same way.The harsh reality is that none of the teams as a whole bat with fluency under such conditions.South africans were exposed to an extent in durban.Under conditions with LIMITED amount of help for the seamers,indians tend to struggle at times but when the conditions are tough as they were at durban,indians are as good in competing as their aussie or protean counterparts are.

  • on December 29, 2010, 17:23 GMT

    Thing is bounce n pace n swing undoes every side...nor fr nothing west indies played with a pace quartet when they had 4 high calibre fast bowlers..n not fr nothing Aussies walloped Clive Lloyd side 5-1..when it had both Roberts n Holding (though young..) simply cuz in Lillee n Thomson they had a better attack...

    its just nt about these days...since the time test match cricket match has been played..we hv had feather beds...yes featherbeds...n whenever a good pitch came along teams queued up to fold up fr low scores...

    those who talk of old days with no covering of pitches done...just tell me did they started playing as soon as rain stopped???????no they didnt...

    how cud the gentlemen who used to apply make up before going out to bat play on grounds sodden with rain..:P

  • baghera on December 29, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    Centurion test - Rub of the green went against India, lost the toss and had to play on a damp first day wicket, which eased out for rest of days, Proteas managed to win it. Durban - Lost the toss again, batted well and put up a good total on bouncy track. Proteas faced the music as the track was consistent and offered bounce all through the match. Bottom line: Indian batsmen are better on any condition compared to the proteas. Leaving a lot of grass thinking indians will fold was foolish, which simply backfired on the home team. Super performance from Indian team... looking forward for the next test... 2-1 india

  • bvnathan on December 29, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    WELL DONE, INDIA TEAM and CONGRATULATIONS on a GOOD VICTORY. It is true that SA finds itself at cross-roads with their performance, when Indian bowlers used the conditions admirably well. Hard to ignore Smith inability to admit his team failings, against a well balanced attack spearheaded by Zahir. May be Indian curators can take some cues from these pitches, and prepare similar tracks back in India to be used at Ranji Trophy and other tournaments. This will be an added bonus for the budding cricketers who will form core of TEAM INDIA in the next 3-5 years. Is BCCI or its council of PITCH committee or the bunch of SELECTORS at the helm, willing to take the initiative?

  • sean_kelly on December 29, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    Why the South Africans don't stand a foot outside the crease to Khan is beyond me. He is just medium-fast at his quickest.

    He isn't going to hurt you Smith. Man up and wear a few if you have to. Take him out of the equation and they have nothing. Bhaji only bowls well when Zaheer does. When he has to be the spearhead, he is terrible.

  • kool_Indian on December 29, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    [Smith's firm belief is that South Africa "just haven't played well in Durban." Besides admitting that there was poor shot selection and that "we were a little bit loose at times", he would go no further. "It's as simple as that."] - come on Mr. Smith - suck it up now - dont be such a sore loser!

  • Quazar on December 29, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Credit to the curator too for producing a really testing pitch. Brilliant test match to round off the year!

  • on December 29, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Much balanced Article, after the thrashing from India. Keep it up!!!