'We were poor in Durban'
South African captain Graeme Smith urged his batsmen to pull up their socks ahead of the crucial third and final Test match against India, which will start at the Newlands, in Cape Town on Sunday.
"Look, we were poor in Durban as a batting unit. We have had some good honest chats about that. As a batting unit we have been pretty successful, but in Durban we lost our minds a little bit. Hopefully we can gather our strength the top six especially for this Test," Smith told reporters on the eve of the third Test.
"Everyone has generally got good records here, and we have played well here in the past. It's a really strong ground for us. We are hoping to use all that and come out and put in a big performance," Smith said.
Image: Graeme Smith
'Toss won't be a big factor'
The skipper feels that toss won't be a big factor on the outcome of the match.
"Even in Durban, I don't think the toss was that crucial. It kept nipping around the whole game. Most Test wickets have something in the first session, and get better as the game goes on. It will be a good Test wicket," he said.
The Proteas are obviously sulking after their 87-run defeat on bouncy Kingsmead strip where everyone thought that India won't have a chance.
"When you play on a wicket (Kingsmead) like that, the margin of error is small. We probably lacked a bit of tough discipline at times and making the little things count. In the end, we slightly let ourselves down. During key moments, we were not good enough, and India were better than us," he added.
Image: Graeme Smith
'We lacked a bit of luck'
The skipper however doesn't have any complaints regarding his team's bowling.
"From bowler's point of view, we have kept India under 250 in three of the four innings, and if we can maintain that, and maybe get even tighter, we can keep them under a bit of pressure," he said.
Although Smith didn't comment about some of the debatable decisions that went in India's favour but did admit that they would also need a slice of luck to turn the tables.
"I think it's fair to say that we lacked a bit of luck, but you make your own luck at times. As a team, it is hard to look at that as a factor for why you were beaten. You have got to be honest and look at the areas you can improve upon.
"The honesty around the team has been good. We realise we were not good enough in that game. After starting so well in Pretoria, it was disappointing. Still an opportunity to win the series, and that's what we want," he added.
Image: Harbhajan Singh celebrates after dismissing AB de Villers
'As a team, the confidence runs deep'
The southpaw feels that it's not only South Africa but India will also equally be under pressure going into the series decider.
"These sort of Test matches, when the game is on the line, the pressure is on both teams to perform. It is going to be a tense match. It's not something that we haven't experienced before. We were 0-1 down against England last year, and then came back playing well at the Wanderers.
"As a team, the confidence runs deep. It's not just something that erodes after one game. We have played well over a long period of time. It's just about reassessing the things, tweaking them and getting right in this game. Things that weren't good in Durban," he said.
The skipper stressed on the mental aspect of playing back-to-back Test matches between a short gap.
"Not really. Back-to-back Tests is a more of a mental thing. We have had a good workout yesterday, especially the batsmen. I think if it clears up, the bowlers will do some work in the middle later. As of now, it's more about mental preparation and execution of plans in the middle," he added.
Image: Morne Morkel celebrates with team-mates after picking up a wicket
'It's a wonderful Test to play in'
When asked about the Newlands strip, the skipper answered, "We know that it will have a bit more of bounce and carry than some of the other Newlands wickets we have played on. The ground is looking magnificent, and the nets are the best I have seen in a very long time, which is great.
"It's a wonderful Test to play in. Great to be here, and the crowds are going to be terrific. Probably one of the more knowledgeable crowds in South Africa," he added.
Image: Graeme Smith celebrates with Dale Steyn after picking up a wicket