Indian captain Rahul Dravid was understandably crestfallen after coming so close to a historic series win in South Africa, only to be outplayed over the last two days of the final Test.
“South Africa batted very well on the second day,” Dravid said after India lost the match and the series. “And of course they bowled very well on the fourth day, when we were bowled out for a paltry score.”
Looking at the positives, the Indians could take away from South Africa, the Indian captain said that fast bowler S Sreesanth, who played a lead role in India winning the first Test in Johannesburg, had been a revelation.
“Sreesanth was in exceptional form during the tour,” Dravid said.
He said that the team is now looking forward to a tough season ahead, beginning with the one-day series against the West Indies at home before leaving for the World Cup in March.
“We've got to move ahead… The World Cup is coming, and we have a few ODI matches before that. So we're focusing on One-dayers for now. It's a big year for all the teams.”
South African captain Graeme Smith, named the Man of the match, was jubilant, having come back from 0-1 in the series to grind out a series win in the last few hours of the tour.
“It was a bit frustrating, sitting in there waiting for play to begin,” Smith said about the long interruption in play due to rain on the final day.
“It was a very special win, right up there with the best,” he added. “It was very special to pick ourselves in Durban, after losing in Johannesburg. The win in Durban gave us confidence coming into this match.”
“Winning here was all the more special because this track suited the Indian team a lot more than it suited us,” Smith said. “It was an emotional win, and you can see the emotion on the guys’ faces.”
“We've proved that we've learnt from our trips to the Indian subcontinent, and so when we go there next season, we'd be a lot more confident,” he said. “We're used to winning on our tracks, and so it was nice to win on this wicket.”
Speaking of debutant left-arm spinner Paul Harris, Smith said: “He's been fantastic. It's always tough on one's debut, and he's played a pivotal role for us in the match. He was defensive when needed, and he attacked at times. He's a very confident guy, and that helped the dressing room atmosphere as well.”
Shaun Pollock, named the Man of the Series, said: “It was a very enjoyable win, a very enjoyable series. “Batting at No. 4… I'm not the first Pollock to bat at No. 4, and it was nice to go up the order… And everyone played his part. Ashwell Prince was superb throughout the series,” he added.
“A lot of cricket is to be played over the next few months, and we're looking forward to the next year.”