Smith speaks: SA to stick to basics
Though the victory at Hyderabad has given us a tremendous boost, we are not about to take it easy because we know India will come hard at us in the next game at Bangalore. It will be a different ground, and we will play under different conditions, and we will in all likelihood face tougher competition. India’s total of 249 could have proved a tough target, but we overhauled it in typical South African style– where we look to field well, bowl with great intensity, and bat clinically. Our performance at Hyderabad embodied all three. Before we came to India, we knew one thing — we would have to adopt, and quickly, to whatever India threw at us. They were on a high and were on home territory. We knew we had to put them under intense pressure from the word go for us to have any chance at all.
So at Hyderabad, you would have noticed that we never once gave up on the game, not when Harbhajan Singh was hammering the bowlers at the death, not when Yuvraj was going great guns, not when he nicked a few and we didn’t connect, not when Justin Ontong and I got out one after another, and not when Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher fell in quick succession. There were still Jacques Kallis and Justin Kemp to finish things off. That, in a way, has been the reason for our recent success.
In a lot of ways, the South African team you see today is stronger than the one that travelled to India for the Test series at about this time last year. Under our new coach, we have become a group of world-class individuals who nevertheless function best as a team. I have never played here, as haven’t a lot of the other guys. But honestly, we aren’t worried, but simply eager to play in front of what will be a great crowd, in a stadium that looks very good. Our game plan remains simple – if we bat first, we put up a big total and if we bowl first, we find newer and varied ways to strike. That sounds laughably simple, but sticking to basics has often made the difference between an average team and a very good one.
Graeme Smith is the captain of the South African team and is writing exclusively for The Himalayan Times