South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town

Team confidence runs deep - Smith

Firdose Moonda

January 1, 2011

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith has said South Africa are expecting a "tense Test" in the series decider against India that starts on Sunday. "When the series is on the line, the pressure is on both teams to perform," he said at the pre-match press conference in Cape Town.

India beat South Africa by 87 runs in Durban three days ago to level the three-Test series at 1-all after they were pummelled by an innings and 25 runs in Centurion. Despite a third, consecutive defeat at Kinsgmead, Smith said there is still great self-belief in the South African camp. "As a team the confidence runs deep, it's not just something that erodes after one game. We have played well over a long period of time. It's just about reassessing things, tweaking them and getting it right in this game."

Newlands is also one of South Africa's favourite venues to play at, which makes the adjustment process somewhat easier for them. "Playing here is one of the highlights of our year. The ground is looking magnificent, and the nets are the best I have seen in a very long time." The pitch is not expected to provide as much assistance for the bowlers as the previous two pitches, but Smith still expects it to do a little bit more than in previous years. "We know well it will have a bit more of bounce and carry than some of the other Newlands wickets we have played on."

While conditions have dominated talk ahead of the each of the three Tests in the series, there is an additional element adding to the hype of the third match: sledging. Sparks flew between Smith and Sreesanth during the second Test and Paul Harris claimed that the India bowler made vulgar, personal comments to members of the South African team.

Smith lost his wicket in the second innings shortly after an on-field altercation with Sreesanth that saw Smith wag his bat at the Indian bowler. Although it looked like a rush of blood to the head caused Smith to play a needless shot, he insisted that the he and the rest of the team are capable of dealing with sledging and that they regard it as part of the game. "You get used to it. In my 90 Tests, I don't think I have played many Tests where there hasn't been an aggressive vibe in the field." However, like Harris, he was quick to caution against getting personal. "I think you start bringing people's families into it, it gets a little bit like crossing over the line."

Despite that Smith believes the spirit is good between the two teams. "There is a lot of respect from both teams. It's one individual that has caused a few hassles and maybe crossed the line in certain ways."

MS Dhoni echoed Smith's sentiments about the incident, saying that certain guidelines needed to be followed on the field. "You have always to be on the right side of that line. Of course it's better if every individual is. It's quite difficult to control Sreesanth. Hopefully he will be on the right side this time, and if he's supposed to say something, say something that's not very personal and to the point."

Smith also unleashed one of his sternest critiques of his team's batting after the second test, blaming the team's loss on their first innings performance when they were bundled out for 131. "In Durban we lost our minds a little bit. Hopefully we can gather our strength, the top six especially, for this Test." South Africa do have JP Duminy waiting in the wings, but with Ashwell Prince being the highest run-scorer for South Africa in Durban, it's unlikely that he will be dropped.

It's difficult to see South Africa make any changes in the bowling department, where they have been relatively successful by their own admission. "We have kept India under 250-300 in the four innings," Smith said "and if we can maintain that, and maybe get even tighter, we can keep them under a bit of pressure." While Smith obviously forgot that India managed 459 in the second innings of the first Test, in three of the four innings they have been kept below 250.

With the confidence South Africa claim to have, it's likely they will field the same XI that did duty in the first two Tests. It's an ideal opportunity to assess them in a pressure situation, something South Africa have been accused of not knowing how to handle. Smith is convinced that they are capable of overcoming this time. "It's nothing we haven't seen before. We came here 1-0 down against England last year and played well."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 6:59 GMT)

some of you guys talk like you have not played cricket at a proper level. You talk about every thing on the field expect family. one slap was not enough for Sreesanth if he carries on he will get a few more before he leaves SA. Even Dhoni said that Sreesanth was out of line. Waiting for Gary Kirsten contract to end and for India to play away from home.

Posted by henchart on (January 2, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

@Aadil-Shamim -You bet India will fail drastically. I bet,it would still do better than what Pakistan has been doing in New Zealand.Take your frustration out through some other way mate.

Posted by ProfessorFart on (January 2, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

India have the upper hand here by some distance...if they can play sensibly against the new ball as they did in the second innings in Centurion. After Steyn and Morkel, SA have little in the bowling department and even both of those can have temprament problems if things go against them. Harris and Tsotsobe would struggle in a pub side and Kallis isn't the threat he once was so a little discipline up top and India should make hay. See off the new ball, frustrate the quicks and theres runs aplenty to be had for India. As for the toss, we I think MS Dhoni must bat first should he win because Newlands is one of the few turning wickets in SA and I could see Harbajhan wreaking havoc fourth innings especially with the dry and sunny forecast.

Posted by P.rahul on (January 2, 2011, 6:09 GMT)

During the first test, Harris was giving mouth full to all the Indian batsmen, who are in the crease. That time, India didnt even utter a single word called sledging. But when south african's lose a test, they say sledging, crossing line and personal etc. Its better to clean their dirt before they speak about others. I agree Sreesanth is overacting most of times, which has to be controlled. Let south africans control their tongue before looking at others.

Posted by RB007 on (January 2, 2011, 5:54 GMT)

If sledging is justified to gain an advantage over the opponents, then Sreesanth's action was probably a masterstroke. The end justified the means. The whole sledging agenda and vocabulary has been set by the Aussies and accepted without resistance by the rest. So they have decreed that Monkey is unacceptable but Motherfu... is perfectly acceptable. That was Harbhajan's defence! Abuses are a cultural thing. Yet, Asian countries routinely bear the brunt in the name of being good sports. Can't there be instructions to captains before each series to ensure that opponents' cultures are respected and sledging does not use cultures specific abuse. Smith was devastated by the sledging in his first couple of series against Australia. And yet today his team sledges as well as the Aussies did.

Posted by sam232 on (January 2, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

here everybody says steyn take 7 wkts at nakpur but look at steyns comment after the days play . he is actualy says the ball changes the nature, they never inform to the umpire and take wkts then ball change blabla.... so the point is he is also need the support from few things otherwise he cant do anything like zak.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 5:22 GMT)

MSD, it would be better if you keep discussions about the team members inside the dressing room and team management circle. if it is that difficult to control Sree, then dont select him. Remember he got u smith's wicket too. I dont understand ur need to discuss Sree's attitude issues with media......

Posted by Trotter3 on (January 2, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

Australia had shown the power of sledging when they were #1. Sreeshanth is doing nothing less or more than what the majority of Aussies do (as well as many others). Whatever you say, cricketers are human too, and sledging will always have an impact. At the end of it all, the statistics will just say India won against SA by 87 runs, nothing about the sledging. Go Sreeshanth go! Being mild-mannered Indians does not pay, unless you happen to be Clark Kent.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (January 2, 2011, 4:54 GMT)

SA should win this at home...but WILL SA CHOKE LIKE ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

Ishant sharma should be replaced by Umesh Yadav

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 3:49 GMT)

nw its enough for south africa and they realizing india s going to won a sires.... nw sachin "god of cricket world" , virender sehwag , laxman and gambhir shows them wt indian team s all abut... in bolling zaheer and harbhajan show indians r also goood in ballling...

Posted by Sal_CricFan on (January 2, 2011, 3:36 GMT)

Possible Scenarios 1) India Wins - Keeps number 1 ranking 2) Game is Drawn - India keeps number 1 ranking 3) SA wins - India keeps number 1 ranking and the most possible scenario 4) SA chokes - see number 1

Ok time for me to watch the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith; oops did I just include the familly?

Posted by Sal_CricFan on (January 2, 2011, 3:24 GMT)

SA will choke. Morkel and Steyn will retire hurt because their averages will be spoiled by rampaging India. Looking at the 2nd test it is evident that SA is not ready for that number 1 spot yet. Pressure is certainly on SA to win, whereas India can draw and not loose that number 1 spot.

Posted by soorajiyer on (January 2, 2011, 2:53 GMT)

Ravi Koulagi - I was about to write that - SAns are poor at numbers :)

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 2:43 GMT)

I just think Sreesanth is embarrassment to team India.. I think its OK sledge when u are bowling superbly and troubling the batsmen and picking wickets.. It adds up to the pressure and aggressiveness. But this fool gets whacked around, then sledges and once again gets whacked. This time, profoundly. He's trying to show aggression and making a big fool out of himself out there and embarrassing the Team in general.

Posted by Trevor_G on (January 2, 2011, 0:56 GMT)

During the 2nd innings in Durban, South Africa lost their minds. With two days (barring rain) to reach a relatively modest total, they came out batting as though they were playing limited-overs cricket. Not one batsman took the time to 'bat himself in', starting the innings with a RR well over 5.0. Moreover, poor shot selection and lousy execution did them in. It made me cringe to see one of my favourite batsmen, Hashim, prodding at a ball so wide of off stump that it hit the toe of his bat. His feet were also rooted to the crease. It beggars belief that they failed to adjust their approach after the first few wickets fell. Van Zyl and Smith must shoulder much of the blame for not identifying and correcting the problem before the middle order succumbed in the same fashion. Congratulations to India for the win; but to some extent, SA handed the match to them on a platter.

Posted by Adysol on (January 1, 2011, 21:05 GMT)

Go SA go. India will never able to win 3rd test. I bet India will fail drastically.

Posted by cooljack_143 on (January 1, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

Smith is being very arrogant in his statements here again.They will loose the 3 test with this attitude of his and no doubt will not make up to worldcup finals.If India pkay with same determination like in durban no team can stop them in winning w cup 2011.I want sreesanth to slege more and more as non of our bowlers are as aggressive as him in the field before not srinath not v.prasad no one.Every team sledges more than req and sreeshanth shoul do it to win us a game.SA players are too good in sledging.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 19:36 GMT)

I'm not sure why Smith is complaining about Sreesanth sledging. If SA had won Durban test, it would have been ok. Also, i am sure world wide everyone sledges and why should this be taken against Sreesanth. It was evident Smith lost his cool by getting out. Smith should rather concentrate on lowlights of Durban and try to win rather complaining. I like Dhoni's comments. If you want to say something, talk to the point. Good to have a captain like this.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 19:25 GMT)

Shree has to be disciplined a bit. He has to believe that he possess a great bowling talent. The ball to Kallis in the second innings was one of the best I have seen in cricket. Sledging works, but should be within the limits. Indians can not behave like Australians. Hope our the pace bowlers will get India the win in third test.

Posted by SnowSnake on (January 1, 2011, 19:21 GMT)

I have to agree with Smith. Players' personal families should be off limits during sledging.

Posted by rohanblue on (January 1, 2011, 18:55 GMT)

neither sa nor india is even close to 80's westindies or 90's aus...

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 18:26 GMT)

If it is a batting pitch then its trouble for India. We don'y have fast bowlers so ll struggle to take 20 wickets. Batters have no room for error, they have to be spot on. Hoping for a riveting test if our bowlers can bowl well...

Posted by TheHonestCritic on (January 1, 2011, 18:26 GMT)

I dont think Toss would be deciding factor for this test. Infact loosing the Toss would be a blessing in disguise for Dhoni this Time.Sehwag is due for a big score and law of averages suggest Dravid , Pujara & Harbhajan (batting) shld come good. Only weak link is Ishant sharma . Ojha shld be given a chance considering pieterson , prince , boucher & even kaliis are vulnerable against spin. As for SA bowling ..indian shld play out steyn cautiously ; Morkel , tsotsobe , harris are due for some battering by sehwag!

Posted by pointofViv on (January 1, 2011, 18:21 GMT)

Smith is now saying that the pressure is on both to perform comparing to what he said that the pressure is on India to prove their no. 1 tag. This gives a psychological idea about the South African side. Both teams have to prove their quality but edge is here to India as they have succeeded in planting the seeds of doubts in the minds of African counterparts.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 17:27 GMT)

SA has always been poor with numbers;-) lost a world cup match due to DL method goof up and now forgot 450+ India scored in first test

Posted by ganeel on (January 1, 2011, 17:25 GMT)

mr. smith should remember that indians are now well settled by now after two test matches;they got used to deadliest pitch like durben now they say third test would be played on batting friendly pitch; all cricket playing nations know that indian batting lineup is most powerful;if indian batsmen handle dyl sten carefully,and lick runs from morkel and others,then indians have very good chance of winning the test and series first time in south africa;mr smith gets involved personally with player like shrishanth without maintaining his stature as a captain; see how Kalis behaves on field ;he is real gentleman. ganeel

Posted by Jeyganesh on (January 1, 2011, 17:02 GMT)

@Nampally. SA has better attack? Thats a good joke. They are a good attack only when the condition suits them. Forget that 459 runs in the second innings? India has brainy bowlers who can bundle out SA for 131 even in condition that was a bit favorable for the batsmen

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

Drop Boucher and ask A.B. to go to Wicketkeeper for this test, then you bring Duminy in

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 16:40 GMT)

He's been (slightly) misquoted. He had said that they have been able to keep India under 250 in three of the four innings!

Posted by ravmeister on (January 1, 2011, 16:37 GMT)

Sorry Mr. Smith but you have not " kept India under 250-300 in the four innings".

Remember Centurion and India's second innings? India all out 459.

Clearly their confidence has been eroded, otherwise why would he have had to lie?

South Africa are there for the taking so go on INDIA and justify your no.1 test ranking! WHIP THEM!

Posted by Nampally on (January 1, 2011, 16:30 GMT)

Yes it is best to eliminate uncouth behaviour especially in Cricket - Gentleman's Game.Hopefully Sreesanth will conduct himself in a more civil manner.The third test is heading to be very exciting and eventful. The top 6 batsmen of each side have a big responibility to perform on so called "Batting Wicket" . It will be left to the bowlers to out perform the bats to win the series. On paper at least SA have a better bowling side. The key guy here is again Sehwag. If he and Gambhir give India a good start and stay at the crease for 2 sessions, then Indians will do well. The same goes on the SA side. Amla, Kallis & de Velliers are the key guys with Smith leading the attack. It remains to be seen whether Steyn, Morkel will still be as effective as they were in previous 2 test.Can Zaheer weave his magic & inspire the Indian bowlers? Will the fielders perform as well as the last test - Catches win matches.Can Dhoni finally win a Toss? Good Luck to both the teams.Despite all I predict a draw.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2011, 15:54 GMT)

what is Mr.Smith out of his mind? we did score a 450 in second innings of the first test, thats well above 300..

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