Chennai:

To begin with, I want to make it clear that we are not going to over-react to our loss at Bangalore and press panic buttons. True to my observation in my last article, the wicket was dry – in fact, it was one of the driest international wickets that we have ever played on. Naturally, once the dew set in, it became moister and consequently easier to bat on. Thus the toss assumed greater importance than was expected. However, lest you think that I am offering up the state of the wicket as an excuse for our loss, I am not. There are three more matches to go, and weather permitting we intend to play a good game of cricket.

The ground at Chennai looks reasonably small and the wicket reasonably hard. Of course, we expect it to turn more than a little, which is something that all teams coming to India expect.

At the same time, the relative smallness of the ground means that unless the spinners get it spot on, they can expect to go for more than a few runs. At the end of the day, the enormous appeal of one-day cricket lies largely in the fact that it is a batsman-oriented game that offers the opportunity to a team to post a large total. With due respect to the bowlers, I don’t think spectators really enjoy watching the ball veering and skidding all over the place.

All of which does not mean that we will pack our playing eleven with all the spin options at our disposal. No matter if all the wickets turn out to be like the ones at Bangalore, we will still adapt the ‘horses for courses’ policy and wait till the last moment to select the right team.

A lot of people, of course, would be of the opinion that we ought to formulate a strategy to counter spin. Personally, my technique against spinners has also apparently come in for some discussion, as has those of a few of the other batsmen. Not only do I not think that there is a problem, I would also like to point out that at Bangalore, it was Irfan Pathan who did the early damage to our innings while the Indian batsmen managed their first run after 19 balls had been bowled in their innings, and it was the ever-accurate Shaun Pollock who got an important breakthrough in the form of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket. What’s more, our pacers made sure that the first seven overs of the Indian innings produced just nine runs.

But yes, the later stages of every innings in this series will probably be dominated by spinners,

and we are working on that assumption. The Indian batting line-up has a lot of depth, with Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni considerably increasing its length, so containing them will require a disciplined effort. However, we have won 20 games at a stretch, and while I do not wish to harp on that fact, I would like to say that we are capable of a lot of resilience. That is what ‘brave cricket’ is all about. Now if only the rains would let up, we could prove that!

Smith is the captain of South Africa and is writing exclusively for The Himalayan Times