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India are never without expectations: Smith

Reacting to Dravid's remarks, the SA captain says India are 'conning themselves' if they feel they would not be burdened by expectations.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2006 19:12 IST

Indians were "conning themselves" if they believed they would not be burdened by expectations when they take on South Africa in the first cricket Test, home team captain Graeme Smith said on Thursday.

"We have been on three tours to India and we know they are never without expectations, so for India to believe that they won't have one for the first Test is actually conning themselves. The expectations are always there," Smith said ahead of the match beginning at Wanderers on Friday.

The skipper was reacting to his rival Rahul Dravid's remarks on Wednesday that they would prefer being underdogs and going into the first Test without any expectations.

Dravid had also said there was enough experience and talent within the ranks to turn things around but Smith had a counter to this suggestion as well.

"We have a set of bowlers who like knocking down some big names and this Indian team has a lot of big names. I am very happy the way our bowlers are hitting the right channels and pace in the nets. They are highly motivated and searching for success."

South Africa would go into the match with five fast bowlers and Smith was particularly effusive about Dale Steyn, returning from a side injury, and the fastest of lot.

"Makhaya Ntini might not have had many wickets but like batting, bowling too is about bowling in combination and we work it out pretty well," Smith said.

The Wanderers pitch sports a few cracks which Smith believed would help the fast bowlers.

"It would be a challenge especially on the first day when the ball does a fair bit. It would be important how the two teams approach their first innings. First innings would be a key on this pitch."

Smith conceded that his team in Tests is still to match up the standards they are setting in one-dayers.

"We are still some year and half behind where we should be in Tests but hopefully in six Tests this summer (against India and Pakistan) we intend to make fair bit of progress."

Smith revealed that his side had studied the video of the four-day game at Potchefstroom and taken note of the approach by the Indian batsmen.

"Sourav (Ganguly) has had a good career for India and looking at their middle order in this Test it would appear that they are carrying more substance."

South African batsmen usually haven't been very aggressive against Indian spinners but Smith promised there would be a whole new approach in this series.

"Most of all it depends on the situation but we would prefer to be more aggressive than hold ourselves back. That has been our approach in one-dayers where Harbhajan Singh went for 60 runs in the first two games. Depending on the situation, we would continue the approach in the Tests."

First Published: Dec 14, 2006 19:12 IST