It's advantage Proteas in final tie
If home crowd cheers us on in Mumbai, Indians will have a tough time, writes South African skipper Graeme Smith.india Updated: Nov 28, 2005 11:45 IST
After our performance at the Eden Gardens, I reckon, we'd be starting off as favourites in the needle encounter at the Wankhede Stadium, which is a great feeling. Among the goals we set before us when embarking on this trip was a one-day series win on Indian soil, something that no South African team has managed in the past.
With just one match standing between us and our dream, we are understandably excited about the last tie of the Pepsi Cup series. As I said in my last article, we would be treating these last two games as finals, and now that we have crossed one half of the hurdle, we are optimistic about the second.
Once again with reference to an observation that I have made in the past, from the very beginning of the series, we have looked to put India under pressure. And as we go into the decider, I believe they are well and truly under stress. This showed very clearly at the Eden Gardens, where the home supporters were obviously unhappy.
In fact, if they cheer us on at Mumbai like they did in Kolkata, the Indians will have more than a match on their hands. The pitch factor has also figured prominently in the last match and the coming one. I have been reading about what many have called the green top in Kolkata, which has been blamed to a large extent for India's troubles. With due respect, I do not think the Eden pitch was anything like a green top. You can't call a pitch on which one team gets 190 for no loss a bad one. 190 for seven or eight would have been a different matter. So if another team is all out for 190-odd, the pitch can at best be said to play a minor role.
The Indian team's internal problems have also supposedly had a hand in destabilising their performance. Well, pressure and turmoil are often inescapable realities of international sport and I would say that to cite reasons like these for India's loss takes away some amount of credit from what was in my opinion a fantastic performance by us. It was a massive day for us too, and there was more than a touch of nerves, since we had lost the services of Makhaya (though thankfully he returns to the side).
But Shaun more than made up for it and played a winning hand. He put the Indian batsmen on the back foot from the start, and received excellent support from Langeveldt and Nel, and even Jacques Kallis. Personally, my batting naturally gave me enormous pleasure.
It was good to be able to lay to rest all talk about my technique against spin. A performance like that tomorrow would make us hard to beat. And if we can get Sachin early, we would suck out a lot of energy from the Indian line-up. The Mumbai wicket will in all likelihood generate some spin. Different wickets, different conditions -- and I believe the team that adapts to them best will come up trumps. We in particular need to adapt quickly, because a 2-1/2 month tour of Australia beckons us.