‘India have a few more things to think about than us’
If India skipper Anil Kumble appeared to be upset — probably due to the grass cover at the Motera stadium — during the media interaction on Wednesday, his adversary from South Africa, Graeme Smith, was exactly the opposite.
While Kumble appeared to be a bit tense, Smith was relaxed. As a television journalist asked him whether they had any plans to face Ishant Sharma if the young pacer plays, Smith shot back: “Is he playing tomorrow?”
Taken aback by the counter question, the journalist said: “I said if he plays…” and Smith replied, “I was trying to get some inside information (from you),” he said sending a wave of laughter in the conference hall at the Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium.
The incident, in a way, reflected the frame of mind the South African bunch is in after a drawn Test in Chennai last week, a Test in which the visitors took more positives than India. But that didn’t mean Smith wasn’t serious about the second Test, which could turn out to be the decisive match in the three-match series.
Smith knew India would be without the services of Sachin Tendulkar, who was ruled out due an aggravated groin strain.
This means that, in all likelihood, Yuvraj Singh would get a chance in the eleven. And Smith did not spend any time in starting mind games with the left-hander.
“Yuvraj is a very good stroke-player,” said Smith. “But he is filling in huge shoes (that of Tendulkar). Obviously there will be pressure, but it’s up to him how to cope with it.”
Not just Tendulkar, India could well also be without Kumble, whose availability for the game was unclear till Wednesday evening.
Smith said Kumble’s unavailability would be a big loss for India. “You lose a real competitor, someone who can really change a game... make a difference to the game,” he said of the veteran leg-spinner.
And after making it clear that there won’t be any changes in his team from the one that played last week, he made it a point that India had more to ponder than South Africa.
“Out of the last game, India probably have a few more things to think about than what we do in terms of combination, in terms of the selections of bowlers,” Smith said.
Lastly, he reiterated the importance of having a sporting wicket. “All cricketers want to see a good cricket wicket." Smith said.
“One with a good balance between bat and ball. We are obviously looking for a little more help (from the pitch).
“The wicket does look good... looks different from the Chennai wicket.”