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Ravi Shastri in Durban 25 December 2013 - 01:05pm IST

Proud of India’s performance at Jo’burg

Ravi Shastri urges Indian bowlers to attack Faf, AB early in the innings

We are not playing at the Bull Ring but expect another bull fight when South Africa and India face off at the Kingsmead in Durban. A scintillating contest at the Wanderers Stadium held the spectators spellbound with neither side giving an away an inch.

SA batting

Faf du Plessis, who wrested the advantage from India, has shown twice in his career that he has the ability to play match saving innings. On this occasion he took the match to a position where South Africa should have won. I think India got out of jail but at the end of it, it is a fair result because India dominated for almost four days of the match.

The pitch eased out on the last day. They used the heavy roller so the real sting in the surface and the steep bounce which was there on the first three days eased up, giving the batsmen that bit of extra time.

You must attack early players like AB de Villiers and du Plessis, who can play these long innings. Although there is not much that MS could have done on Day 5, I thought it was a lion hearted performance from our bowlers.

I thought it was a fabulous Test match and in the end the right result, though I would say South Africa should have gone for a win.

SA bowling

I would say Dale Steyn was unlucky. He must have beaten the bat at least 15 times. On another day when the luck is in your favour, you could take three wickets. It is the first time in his career that he has gone wicket-less for that many runs (30-5-104-0). He has a strike rate as good as anybody who has played the game. So it is not that he bowled one bit badly. It was just that it wasn’t his day. It happened to both sides. But I must say that the character and the discipline that the Indian batsmen showed both in the first innings with Virat Kohli and then in the second innings with Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay and Kohli is remarkable.

Morne Morkel's injury was a massive blow. In conditions like these, he is one of the meanest fast bowlers around because he is tall and bowls into the body. He is like the West Indians of old. He doesn’t give too many runs away, bottles up one end and keeps the pressure.

Reflections

I don’t think India could have done anything differently. If anything, they would have hoped for more help for Ravichandran Ashwin. On the fifth day track, you think the ball would turn but unfortunately nothing happened. When he plays overseas variation of pace becomes important. Try different paces because only then will you know what the best pace on that surface is.

Lesson for India is that South Africa are the No. 1 team in the world and that they are not going to give in that easily.

On the other hand SA can take a lot of lessons from India as well. The Indian batsmen’s footwork was very good in the first innings. The South Africans were found wanting in that regards, however, they were much better in the second innings.

What next in Durban

The sun is out in Durban and it will take its toll on the bowlers because it gets very hot and humid. They will prepare a fast track and will go all-out for a win. That is good because it will give India a chance as well. If Indian bowlers bowl well it could be a very tight Test match again.
I think the Proteas will go all-out for pace. They won’t go in with Imran Tahir or any other specialist spinner. JP Duminy will hold his place for the Test and will be used as a part-time spinner.

(As told to Prajakta Pawar)

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