Sachin Tendulkar has five centuries against South Africa in South Africa. So when he says India has every chance to make a comeback in the series, you have to believe him. Tendulkar talks to Boria Majumdar about the next two Tests, what went wrong in Cape Town and what India should do going ahead in the series. Excerpts…
Firstly your take on the Cape Town Test. Did you think we had a chance when the bowlers bowled South Africa out for 130 in the second innings?
Yes. The match was wide open. In fact, if you ask my father-in-law who I had a chat with on the morning of the fourth day, I told him that I felt India had a chance. He asked me if I was sure saying South Africa was ahead by 142 and had eight wickets in hand. I was sure that a wicket which was under cover for more than 24 hours will have a lot of sweating and if India managed to pick up a couple of early wickets, we could have a go at the South African batting.
We did have a chance but this is the beauty of sport. Things don’t always go to plan. At the same time I must tell you that while India will hurt as a result of the loss and feel they missed out on a chance, we can definitely make a comeback in the series.
Do you really believe this team can make a comeback in the series? Do we really stand a chance having lost the first Test?
Hundred per cent. I absolutely think we do. Look, each time they asked questions of us, we also asked questions of them. Our bowlers asked questions of their batting. Hardik Pandya, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Aswin asked questions of their bowling.
For three and a half days, the Test match was wide open. It could’ve gone either way. There is no reason to believe we can’t do that again. In Centurion, it will be hard and bouncy and from experience I can tell you there is less lateral movement. We need to bat well and I am very confident the team is capable of doing so. To repeat what I started with — I surely think this team is capable of making a comeback in the series.
Are you happy with the performance of the bowlers?
Yes, they bowled well. Especially in the second innings they bowled to a plan and did not let South Africa have any easy runs. That makes a big difference. Almost all of the bowlers got wickets and if they bowl the right length, there is enough in the South African wickets to give them value for their effort. To bowl South Africa out for 130 was commendable. At Centurion, with Chris Morris coming in for Dale Steyn, there will be a little more meat to South Africa’s batting but the bowlers should feel good about their performance.
What about batting? What advice would you give to Rohit Sharma at this point?
Rohit was batting well. Pujara and Rohit played out a very difficult session on the second morning in Cape Town. It was very much like the session that Gautam (Gambhir) and I played out in 2011. The difference is we did not get out while Rohit got out after having done the hard work.
In the second innings also he was looking good. If I were Rohit, I would tell myself ‘no need to think too much’. It’s necessary to think more only when you are not batting well. But in his case that’s not a problem and there is no reason to complicate things unnecessarily. When you don’t get a big score, you unknowingly start putting too much pressure on yourself and that’s what Rohit needs to avoid. Performers like to do well and often try too hard to do so. That’s when things can go wrong. Rohit needs to guard against thinking too much.
And Murali Vijay? He has the experience of playing the moving ball and has done well overseas. Would you change your approach just after one Test match or just back your natural game which has given you success in the past?
Look, it is not about one player. It’s about the team. The batting unit as a whole wasn’t able to do well in Cape Town. It hasn’t happened for the first time and it is not the last time either. In sport such things happen.
All they need to do is just go about things naturally and not complicate. They need to leave Cape Town behind them and move on. We all know there will be tricky periods in South Africa. That has always been the case. And you have to battle it out. That’s the challenge of Test cricket.
Source: Google Sports