India in SA

Dhoni not complacent

2010-12-30 22:00
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Alexander Joe, AFP)

Durban - South Africa and India head to Newlands on Sunday for the deciding Test of the three-match series between the two top-ranked sides in the world.

India levelled the series in Durban beating South Africa by 87 runs after the hosts won the first Test by a massive innings and 25 runs at SuperSport Park, Centurion, two weeks ago.

India arrives in Cape Town with their number one ranking intact as South Africa had to win all three Tests to usurp their spot.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is cautious about getting ahead of himself and said India still need to be disciplined in all three areas.

"Our bowling, our batting and our fielding have to be at their best if we hope to win the next Test.

"We don't have much experience on these types of wickets so it's a big challenge for the side. We know it doesn't always go our way and we last won a Test in South Africa in 2006 so everyone wants to perform really well."

The Cape Town match will be significant for both teams as it will be the last time the Proteas play a Test match under the guidance of Corrie Van Zyl and it will probably be the last time India play a Test under Gary Kirsten's guidance.

Van Zyl made it clear that his commitment to the High Performance Programme in Pretoria comes first and he was only the caretaker coach until after the World Cup in February 2011.

Kirsten has children of school-going age so he is expected to move back to South Africa soon after the 50-over extravaganza takes place in the sub-continent and, coincidentally, is the man tipped to take over from Van Zyl should he apply for the post.

Kirsten will be a big loss to India as, by their own admission, he has instilled discipline and a work ethic which was lacking before. He has also taken them to the top of the Test table which is no mean feat as they had a reputation for being inconsistent abroad.

"He's a good man to have around and he believes in hard work. He'll be very difficult to replace," said Dhoni who is resigned to the fact that Kirsten will be leaving the team in the near future.

South Africa meanwhile, have a good record at home and have only suffered five series losses at home since readmission - three of them against Australia when the men from Down Under were dominating the Test arena and, for that matter, all other formats of the game.

India last played a Test series here in 2006/7 and won the first Test at the Wanderers, but went on to lose the series 1-2.

Dhoni said it was a concern of theirs after their defeat at Centurion whether India had the capacity to take 20 wickets to win a match.

"Whenever we lose a Test match, it has a big impact on the side psychologically. It was a bit of a worry for us to get 20 wickets but our bowlers did really well in Durban.

"Most of our bowlers are swing bowlers and not naturally talented on flat wickets so it makes it difficult for us to bounce the batsmen out.

"The one thing I'm really consistent at is losing the toss," laughed Dhoni, who has lost the last 13 out of 14 tosses.

"Sometimes it can be really tough. It's always good to win the toss so you give your bowlers a chance if there's something in the wicket."

He needn't have worried as his bowlers dismissed the hosts in their first innings for 131 runs in 37.2 overs on day three of the second Test giving them the advantage to go on and win the Test.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith said his team lost the second Test in that first innings despite some decisions not going their way on the final day.

"We lost that Test on day two. Our 131 was never going to be a competitive total.

"India is a very experienced team and we expected them to bounce back at us," said Smith.

"When the number one and two teams are playing, catches and run-outs can be the key so we've stepped up our focus in that area particularly. Otherwise, we need to execute our skills well, get the ball in the right areas and just play good Test match cricket."

The third and final Test at Newlands is scheduled to start on January 2 at 10:30.


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