South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 5th day December 30, 2013

To turn it around and win a huge achievement - Smith


Don't think we'll ever replace Jacques - Smith

Welcome back, Durban. You are part of South Africa again.

After being the scene of four straight defeats between 2009 and 2011, South Africa have turned their fortunes at the coastal city around. That Graeme Smith could lead his men out to sing their team song on its surface more than three and a half hours after they sealed the series victory was confirmation Kingsmead has returned to the fold of home turf.

"Protea fire" is the chorus of their song. The concept, featuring their nickname, the Proteas, is based on the germination of the country's national flower. It can only grow after a fire, because the seeds are cased in a hard shell which can remain closed for two decades. After the adversity of flame, it blooms.

Smith believes his men lived up to their emblem because they overcome conditions and persistent clouds to ensure they were undefeated in a 14th consecutive series. Of those, they have won eight, including this one. "The wicket didn't make it easy for us. It's almost like we were back in India," he said. "The weather and the pitch made life a little more difficult. We had to work hard. To have the ability to turn it around and win like we did is a huge achievement."

The difference ended up being in the spin department, but not in the way anyone would have expected. Robin Peterson ended up as South Africa's leading wicket-taker in the second innings with four scalps. MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja were two of them, having misjudged their shots against him.

Zaheer Khan was the other on the final day, adjudged lbw. Replays showed the ball would have missed legstump but the delivery Peterson bowled to achieve that wicket was a carrom ball, a skill many would have thought Peterson lacked. Add that to the 52-ball 61 he powered his way to with the bat and it was a good game for Peterson, who was under scrutiny after the way he bowled in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan.

South Africa still have unanswered questions in that department but Peterson went some way to reassuring them with this showing. "Both our spinners have faced challenging times," Smith said. "Robbie did well with the ball and with the bat last night. He brings a good balance to the team. The four wickets will be hugely rewarding. Without those four wickets, I don't think we would have come close to winning this Test match."

Peterson's ability as a lower-order allrounder may take the pressure off South Africa to find another seam-bowling two-in-one immediately following Kallis' Test retirement. There will be no easy polyfill for them, something MS Dhoni warned them of when he described Kallis as their "ultimate luxury" which India could have used.

"If we had a Kallis, we would have played two spinners and three seamers," Dhoni said. "But there's no point complaining about what we don't have. South Africa will have to find someone. They have players who can bat and bowl but they will have groom them further."

Smith acknowledged something similar but has already understood Kallis himself cannot be substituted. "I don't think we are ever going to replace Jacques. The sooner we face that, the better," he said. 'We'll need to get tactically smart. I don't think anyone who gets picked should be labeled as Jacques Kallis' replacement. What Jacques has left is huge. It's important that the next guy gets a fresh start."

South Africa have six weeks to ponder that before Australia arrive, a contest they are relishing despite the break to play domestic 20-overs cricket. "We're just hitting our straps and now we have another month off... I feel if we had a couple more [international] matches, we'd play really well," Smith said. "But it's setting up for an exciting series."

Until then, South Africa can soak in the success they've just achieved in beating the team ranked second, gaining two ranking points, winning a series against India for the first time since 2006. "The one team we haven't beaten over the last three years [is India]. At the Wanderers, we were behind the game for 90% of it and fought our way back to draw. This was an incredible win considering the weather and India's performance on the first day." Smith said. "This team conducts itself in ways that speak for itself."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vaughan on January 1, 2014, 11:18 GMT

    I may sound funny by saying this and attract huge criticism from my fellow SA countrymen, and no denying that Jacques Kallis is probably the greatest allrounder the world has ever seen (even better than Sobers, Khan and Hadlee!), but he has actually been a liability over the last 2 years in the team and has disturbed the balance due to the selectors not wanting to drop him out of respect. Yes, I know he did get a ton in his farewell test, and possibly engineered the win, but watch how the balance of the team improves againt the Aussies. The Aussies are not that hot at the moment, and they have won the Ashes against an England side on the downward slide. SA will actually defeat Australia far easier than they did against India. They don't have any proven stars. Our batters grew up against pace like Johnson & co. Our batters read finger spinners like Lyon better than wrist spinners. We will set traps for Warner. Watson is shot. We only fear Michael Clarke. He's a class act!

  • Dru on December 31, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Sure SA won but question marks remain! India were a young side and I expected SA to blow them away with the best bowling and batting line ups in the world. They conceeded a first innings lead in JHB and India were nearly 200/1 in the second test. Sure SA did well to draw and nearly win the first test and blow away India in the second test but I think SA were expected to win 2-0 and the wins to have been much easier. Take nothing away from SA they did really well against a plucky opponent who put them under presure, after all you dont be the number one team for nothing. My point is SA with all the guns up their sleeve should have won better.

  • sri on December 31, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @KiwiRocker welcome back!! We missed you all these days. I thought you would disappear after Tendulkar's retirement. You weren't seen when India was dominating the game. So hows your pakistan team doing? I think their batsmen are doing fine job at the moment and hope you don't get carried away by calling your team world beaters. See you next year when India looses or when Sangakkara retires. Because he is the next on the debate list on his retirement after Lara vs Sachin, Ponting vs Sachin, Kallis vs Sachin debate.

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    there comes kiwirocker and his passion on Indian cricket

  • sanjai on December 31, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Kallis cant b replaced, however the team have to move on, so Smith, Petersen, Amla, Faf, AB, JP, Parnell, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Peterson(in fast pitches) / Tahir (in turners ).

    Bring in dekock, roussow, harmer to th test arena,

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    Congrats SA for series win. But beware of the upcoming series against Aussie.They are gelling well and seemed to be peaked the right form in the ongoing Ashes.Waiting for AUS-SA Test Series. Truly Kallis can't be replaced , But they have ABD who can achieve close to watch what kallis has achieved. Try to relieve him with keeping stuff with Q kock.

  • Rezwanul on December 31, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Include Simon Harmer and Quinny as back up and groom them.Harmer is a good prospect and he is the right choice to lead the spinning department.Quinny can take number 4 position in SA test line up.

  • Mogudoom on December 31, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    FAF can try at no 4 , and ABD at 5 and question mark is 6 and 7 th position .. i dont think JBD play that well recent days .. if he perform welll then we need a clean striker at no 7 with batting skill and little defense skill and 8,9,10 , 11 bowler whom little bit can able to bat

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    Elgar??? No the ignored Albie Morkel for Kallis, Albie even has a great first class batting avg and is ideal to bat at 7. Du Plessis at 4, De V at 5, Duminy at 6. SAf will be more formidable now since Kallis was out of form the last 2 years. As for India, the Rohit-haters make no sense at all. They forget how unsuccessful Pujara's, Kohli's (the first 8 innings!), Rahane (flopped totally in Aus even against state sides) and Vijay's I(a flop in WI against WI) initial overseas test cricket was. And yet Dhawan & Rohit have done very well in overseas ODIs against quality attacks including some of the best fast bowlers in the world.

  • Gudu on December 31, 2013, 0:42 GMT

    My analysis of the series is that India almost lost the first test I think SA should have gone for the win in the first test match and second test was won by SA almost by an innings. Ind lost both ODIs, badly. The results don't show that India did remarkably well.

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