India were demolished by a spirited South African outfit with two days to spare in the second Test in Ahmedabad on Saturday. The win hands visitors an unbeatable 1-0 lead and hosts will now be battling to save the series.
And this puts India captain Anil Kumble under pressure. Having defeated Pakistan at home and won a Test in Australia, the old war-horse’s team will be put to a stern test with the last match of the series starting in Kanpur on Friday.
“There is pressure, we have lost a Test here,” Kumble said after the match. “So, it’s important for us to bounce back and we are confident that we can.”
Referring to the win in Perth after being down 2-0 in the series in Australia recently, Kumble said: “We have done it in the past and there is no reason why we cannot do it again. We have the same players in the dressing room and I am confident we will come back.”
However, with the kind of effort India put in with the bat, it’s going to be an uphill task.
“It’s just one of those things in the second innings where everybody got starts and we didn’t convert those,” Kumble said.
“It’s always difficult to comeback after being bundled out for 76,” he said. “We did well to pick up four quick wickets but the partnership between AB (de Villiers) and (Jacques) Kallis was crucial. If we had got a wicket at that stage, things could have been different.”
Kallis and De Villiers added 256 runs for the fifth wicket. In the three innings that South Africa have batted so far, India have picked up 22 wickets at just over 62 runs apiece.
This means India have problems aplenty going into the third Test.
The grass cover on the wicket at Motera, and India’s decision to bat first remained the talking points of the match. Kumble defended his decision.
“I think the wicket behaved like that throughout with the new ball. It was just a matter of adjusting to that,” Kumble said.
“It was one of those days when all the nicks either hit the stumps or go straight to the fielder.” Kumble’s counterpart, Graeme Smith was expectedly delighted.
“It is one of those days which you really got to enjoy,” Smith said. “We’ve been focussed around this series and things we wanted to achieve. Obviously winning the series and doing what it takes to come first are one of those things.”