We’ll keep the momentum going, says de Villiers
“We’re not thinking about being the world No 1 in Tests because we’re not bothered about rankings. Our main aim is to dominate world cricket and the current focus is on winning the series,” said AB de Villiers, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.cricket Updated: Feb 12, 2010 23:14 IST
The sight of blades of grass on the pitch gradually being snipped off might not have pleased M.S. Dhoni two days ahead of a Test his team must win to level scores. On the other hand, watching V.V.S. Laxman bat fluently at the nets and Sreesanth loosening up must have made for comforting viewing.
The India captain wouldn’t perhaps have been as pleased had he seen the South Africans get ready for the second and final Test, beginning here on Sunday. There was a spring in the Proteas’ steps, reminding one of the Springboks as they were known earlier.
The three frontline fast bowlers didn’t bowl at the nets and Mark Boucher too dropped in late, but it was unmistakeable that the others were enjoying what they were doing. Such confidence and energy comes from success and no wonder then that the South Africans are a draw away from snatching the world No. 1 crown from India.
“We’re not thinking about being the world No. 1 in Tests because we’re not bothered about rankings. Our main aim is to dominate world cricket and the current focus is on winning the series,” said A.B. de Villiers on Friday. The batsman did admit it would be a big blow if Graeme Smith doesn’t recover, but he was looking at the positives.
“It’s been going in our favour since Johannesburg (where they beat England in the last Test to draw the series 1-1 last month) and the result in Nagpur shows that. It was frustrating to draw against England, a series we dominated, but the momentum is back with us and we are looking to keep it going.”
Having outplayed India in every department in the first Test, SA look intimidating. Smith’s absence can’t be filled but there is some depth in the batting still with Jean-Paul Duminy being the only batsman short on runs of late. There is, of course, no dearth of weapons of destruction in bowling. That way, it probably is the most balanced team to have travelled to India after Australia in 2004. Even the South Africans of 2008 were strong enough to leave with a draw and this is almost the same side with Duminy and Parnell in place of Neil McKenzie and Makhaya Ntini in the XI.
But this lot looks stronger with Hashim Amla having become more consistent, Dayle Steyn more dangerous, Morne Morkel maturing, to go with the fact that India are without Rahul Dravid. Smith’s absence might change things dramatically, but as long as that’s not confirmed, the balance is tilted in favour of the visitors.