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Even 150 will be hard to get on this track: Arthur warns India

April 12, 2008 22:34 IST

South Africa coach Micky Arthur reckons India may be "just 2 to 3 per cent" ahead of his team in the crucial third and final cricket Test at this stage but warned the hosts that even a total of 150 in the fourth innings would be hard to achieve.

Arthur said the match was heading for an exciting finish and it was important for his wards to stitch a couple of big partnerships to put pressure on India.

Images: India vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Day 2

"The game is hugely tight at this stage, and it will go down to the wire. We have to first get the last wicket quickly and bat well to put pressure on India", he said after the second day's play which saw the hosts taking a slender 23-run lead by finishing on 288 for nine.

The South African coach said the key to the Indian innings was that they managed four consecutive fifty-plus partnerships.

"On a track like this, you tend to lose a few wickets when a partnership is broken. But they got four 50-plus partnerships in a row which helped them to take a lead," he pointed out.

Sourav disappointed at missing ton

Arthur, who was critical of the track even before a ball was bowled, said it had probably behaved a little better than expected.

"It has probably behaved better than we expected. It looks like a fifth day Test track on the second day."

Asked whether the South Africans are regretting going into the match with just one specialist spinner in Paul Harris, he said, "It was part of our decision making. We are quite comfortable with this bowling attack. The seamers can do a lot of damage on this kind of a track."

When India cleared the Titmus test

On the spinner, he said, "On another day, Harris could have finished with five wickets. But he was unlucky today."

On what would be a good target to set for the Indians, Arthur said, "A target of 150 or 160 will be pretty challenging in the fourth innings on this surface".

"India have a lead of 20 or so but it is not significant. But a lead of 40 or 50 will be quite a bit."

Arthur again said that they were expecting such a track to be prepared by the Indians since the hosts were under pressure to level the series.

"We fully expected India to go for such a track, but in a funny sort of way, it will produce a result which will be very exciting.

"I think the Ahmedabad track was ideal for Test cricket. It had something in it for the seamers, spinners and also for the batsmen. If the game had gone on for more than three days, the spinners would have got some assistance."

Arthur brushed aside the altercation between Yuvraj Singh and Dale Steyn and said it was not a serious issue at all.

"It was nothing. We have left it at that and it was not even discussed in the dressing room," he said.

M R Mishra
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