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Big boys should rise to South Africa test

india Updated: Jan 03, 2011 23:44 IST

I have a feeling South Africa have put 60 extra runs on the board. The Newlands track has enough in it for the bowlers. The hosts also have the advantage that the visitors bat last on this track.

Sure, the Newlands pitch helps batsmen on Day Two and Three. It's best for the batsman on these two days. But India first need to match and then aim to build up a sizeable lead. I don't think the track will be of help in this mission for the visitors. Jacques Kallis thus is a hero to have done so well on this pitch. He came in at a precarious situation and held one end up stoically. He cut out the flourish and aimed at rebuilding the innings. He found useful partners along the journey. Without him, South Africa's cause was as good as lost.

India also were perked up by Sreesanth. He wears his aggression on his sleeve and, quite often, makes news for the wrong reasons. Here, he did it for all the right reasons. He thrives when people react. Graeme Smith might have done himself and his team no favour by needling the Indian in the second Test.

It is fair to say South Africa finished the first day on a high. They had Kallis building up that interesting partnership with Ashwell Prince. South Africa justifiably looked at 400 as they retired for the day on Saturday.

Sreesanth ensured it didn't happen. Skipper Dhoni sensed his man for the moment and didn't give Ishant Sharma more than an over with the second new ball. Clearly India need a big first innings. Sehwag's early departure hasn't helped. Sehwag has had a few starts in this series but he hasn't been able to stamp his authority. India can't afford to fall too far behind. In that respect, the third day could have a critical bearing on the Test — and the series.

India's big boys have never been needed more.