Proteas still 'quietly confident'

2010-12-29 00:00

THE Proteas summoned the ghost of Perth 2008, while India will be looking to their rejuvenated attack to finish off what has been an epic tussle in Durban.

“We are still quietly confident about our chances,” Proteas’ slow bowler Paul Harris said after yesterday’s play.

“If you remember, we were in a similar position when we chased down 400 in Perth, and we had Jacques [Kallis] and AB [De Villiers] at the crease overnight then, too,” he recalled.

Certainly, there are similarities, but this is not the same benign surface that greeted the Proteas in Western Australia.

Groundsman Wilson Ngobese has been rightly praised for the excellent track he has produced here, with bounce and pace giving the bowlers something to bowl at, and runs on offer for those who display the necessary patience.

“You never feel totally settled, and there is always a chance for the bowler,” VVS Laxman explained, after he had again starred with the bat.

His 96 showed that there are runs to be had, and the Proteas will be hoping that De Villiers and Kallis can stick around long enough in this morning’s critical first session.

“We just need one big partnership, and hopefully Jacques and AB can provide it,” Harris continued.

“This is a crucial partnership for us now.”

Harris also added that the nature of the wicket is still in favour of run-scoring, despite the swathe of wickets on the first three days.

“Jacques did say it’s still a very good wicket, and it has actually quickened up.”

Laxman, who has been head and shoulders above anyone else with the bat, said patience is key when batting on this particular pitch.

“If you can get through the tough periods, there are definitely runs to be scored.

“You get value for shots here, and the morning session will be crucial. If we can get Kallis early, then we can put them under real pressure,” he said.

With the match so evenly poised, it is now a question of nerve as much as skill, and both teams have faith in their ability.

“Since I have been involved with the team, we have come out on top in most of these situations. So I am pretty confident about our chances,” Harris declared.

Laxman was equally defiant, saying his side have a very handy lead and the bowlers had shown in the first innings what they could do.

“In both innings, the South Africans got off to a fast start, but we didn’t panic. We know that we can take quick wickets and that will be key.”

Laxman also said the spat between Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Graeme Smith was bound to happen, given the high stakes.

“You have the top two sides in the world, and we are both desperate to win. I don’t know what was said, but I do know that their bowlers also came hard at us,” he countered.

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