Cape Town - Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith on Saturday shrugged off the effect the early morning rain would have either on his team’s preparation or the state of the pitch going into the winner-takes-all final Test against India starting at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday.
The teams are locked at 1-1 in the three-match series after the Proteas won the first match at SuperSport Park by an innings and 25 runs and India responded with victory by 87 runs in the second match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead.
“Back to back Test matches are more of a mental thing,” commented Smith. “We had a bit of a work-out on Friday but it is now more about mental preparation and execution of plans over the five days. We have played a lot of cricket and done a lot of training and it is now about switching on our minds and making sure that we are ready for tomorrow.”
As far as the pitch is concerned Smith said he did not expect the surface to be any different from the normal “good Test wicket”.
“I’m not sure that the toss will be that important. I didn’t think the toss was crucial in Durban either. The ball moved around throughout the game. The wicket here generally has something in it in the first session. Then it gets better and better as the game goes on and later takes a bit of spin. It is normally a good cricket week and it should be a good Test wicket here.”
Reviewing the Proteas’ performance in the losing Test at Durban Smith said he expected the batting, which had been below par in that match, to be back to its best.
“I felt we were a little bit off our mark in Durban. We were not as precise as we need to be. When you play on a wicket like that, margins are so small. We lacked a bit of tough discipline at times and didn’t make the little things count. In the end we let ourselves down slightly and still managed to push it close but there were big moments in that game when we weren’t good enough and India were better than us.
“We were a poor batting unit in Durban and we have had a good, honest chat about that. Our batting unit has been very successful over the last period of time. Our top six has been our strength and hopefully we can come out here and put in a good performance. We all have good records here and it is a good ground for us.
“From our bowling point of view we have kept India under 250 in three of the four innings. If we can maintain that – even get a little bit tighter and control that run rate we can put them under pressure.”
The Proteas have a fully fit squad and it is likely that they will keep the same team for the third match in a row.