Smith braces for India fightback in second Test
An upbeat South Africa captain Graeme Smith has already started playing mind games before they take on India in the second Test which starts in Durban on Boxing Day.
"I still believe that we could have handled that situation better. I would like to insist that wicket was helping bowlers when we batted for first 40-odd overs," Smith said in reference to India's 136 all-out in the first innings of the first Test, which the tourists lost by an innings and 25 runs.
"Then wicket flattened out on the second after tea and then on to the third day. But certainly we would done better on that wicket," Smith said, taking a dig at the much-vaunted Indian batting line-up when asked how his team would have approached if put in to bat.
"I think that the scoring rate we achieved had done the trick for us as we were left with lot more time to get India out twice," he added.
Image: Graeme Smith
'We aren't thinking too far ahead'
The Proteas skipper insisted that by inflicting a humiliating defeat on the opposition, his team is riding high before taking on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men for the second time in the series.
"Look we have won the last Test match by innings and 25 runs. So we have lot of positives to take from that match.
"We are certainly going to take that confidence with us in the second Test.
"On the other side doubts will certainly creep into the Indian team. But we aren't thinking too far ahead. We are focussing on the process and preparing well for this match," he said.
Image: Team India celebrates the dismissal of a South African batsman
'If we can knock Sehwag out early, things can change for us'
The southpaw, however, expects a better fightback from Dhoni's men in the coming Test.
"I expect a much more fightback from the Indian team. They have loads of experience. They will come out fighting in this Test match, especially in the batting department. Don't forget this is a fight between the top two teams in Test cricket."
Smith is confident his bowlers can sort out Virender Sehwag, who showed glimpses of his devastating ability with the willow during the second innings of the first Test.
"That's the way Sehwag plays. He backs his ability, and if he gets going then he takes the game away from the opposition. But, like in the first innings at Centurion, if we can knock Sehwag out early on, then things can change for us.
"If we can make early inroads, then we can test the lower order on a relatively new ball. That is going to be a huge challenge for us -- to restrict Sehwag from giving a flying start for his team."
Image: Virender Sehwag
Big Test for Hashim Amla
Smith is, however, aware that South Africa's record at Kingsmead of late is poor, as they lost the last two Test matches played there.
"Yes, we have lost last two Test matches played here at Kingsmead. Honestly speaking, we were not good enough in all five days while playing against England. We have spoken about it and will handle the situation better this time around," he answered.
About the strip, Smith said, "We expect the same type of bounce and carry on the Kingsmead wicket. We all know that conditions have been wet over here, but now the sun is beating down. So you can expect a good wicket which will also offer some turn."
About Hashim Amla, who will be playing his 50th Test, Smith said, "It's going to be big Test match for Hashim. He is a very composed and disciplined guy. He has become a solid performer for us in all forms of cricket. It is nice to see how he has grown in stature in international cricket."
Image: Hashim Amla