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February 29, 2000

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Inner strength proved decisive

Hansie Cronje

Arriving in Bombay after a tough, but successful series against England and Zimbabwe, we suddenly realised that this is where our toughest assignment of the season starts. With only five days before the Test match, we needed some practice, and the facilities both on and off the field at the CCI. were outstanding. We could not have asked for better preparation.

In 1996 we had our moments, but I still believe there were some doubts as to whether we believed that we could beat India in India. The touring party of 2000 has both the desire and ability to actually achieve this goal. The team has matured since then, grown in confidence, and has played some solid Test cricket since September 1998.

Looking back at the first Test match at the Wankhede stadium, it was that inner strength which proved to be decisive. After trailing by 50 runs in the first innings (thanks to Sachinís performance with both bat and ball), we knew we had to bowl India out for a score of under 150. That, on a flattish pitch, was always going to be a tough task, but the bowlers responded magnificently and helped us reduce the deficit to 163 with our second innings to come.

We found the track pretty good against the new ball, but later it started to turn and bounce a little more. If I had to say, the toughest ask for a modern cricketer, is to adapt to the different pitches in the world. Growing up on hard, fast pitches and then having to play here, is what makes it such a magnificent challenge. We thoroughly enjoy it and hope that when we return home, we would all be more confident against the turning ball.

Anil Kumble bowled well and itís a joy to bat against him, even though he sometimes gets the better of you. Thatís the real beauty of this great game, all the different challenges and battles. There has been some good ones, Atherton v/s Donald, Mark Waugh v/s Shaun Pollock, and now Kumble v/s Kallis. It was a joy to watch.

We find the crowds unbelievably knowledgeable and joyful. They live for each ball and for any young player from South Africa it is an eye-opener playing in these noisy stadiums.

I have been really impressed with Mark Boucher as a player in our side. Heís ready for any battle, studies the game, encourages others and lives for the moment. Add to that his ability and youíll see just why heís had such a positive effect on the Proteas. May all his hard work pay off Ė which I am sure will.

(Gameplan)

Hansie Cronje

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