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Smith surprised by India's fifth-day approach

Graeme Smith expected more of a fight from India on the final morning, and was surprised at how easily the last two wickets came

South Africa could not find a way past Sachin Tendulkar but that did not deny them victory, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 5th day, December 20, 2010

Sachin Tendulkar did not farm the strike, and South Africa were able to pick up the last two wickets easily  •  AFP

Graeme Smith expected more of a fight from India on the final morning, and was surprised at how easily the last two wickets came. Perhaps, it had something to do with the fact that after a comprehensive Test win, two of the three questions that came Smith's way were about Sachin Tendulkar. Smith chose to be brutally honest. The stage for that tone was set when Jacques Kallis was asked why he didn't applaud for Tendulkar's century even as every other South African did. Smith's bemused look told a story then.
And two questions later, when Smith was asked to rate Tendulkar's century, he let rip. "It gets difficult," Smith said. "The guy has scored 50 Test hundreds, it's hard to rate. He started scoring Test hundreds probably before I can remember. Under pressure, being able to score runs is always a good feather in your cap. [However] I must be honest I was a bit surprised he made life so easy for us this morning. That did surprise me a little bit. But otherwise, yesterday his partnership with MS Dhoni was [good] … I think MS probably needs some credit for that also because if he didn't hang around, Sachin probably wouldn't have got his 50th. That partnership in general was the one time that they really stood up in the game."
On the final morning, with India's last two wickets needing 30 runs to avoid an innings defeat, Tendulkar didn't farm the strike. He exposed Sreesanth and, after his dismissal, Jaidev Unadkat to the fiery quicks, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Sreesanth fell when he was given three balls to face from Morkel, and Unadkat when he had to deal with an entire over from Steyn.
Smith also took a dig at Harbhajan Singh when rating Paul Harris' performance. "Paul was brilliant you know," Smith said. "If you compare him to Harbhajan, the way he controlled the game for us was brilliant. Paul gets written off every series, whether it is the opposition, or the media, everyone seems to bad-mouth him or write him off. He always seems to find a key way to do something for us, to allow other people to do big things. In our dressing room, too, he plays a big part."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo