A rare series victory in India in sight, South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his team would benefit from the controversy over the Eden Gardens pitch in the second and final cricket Test starting on Sunday.
South Africa lead 1-0 in the series and even a draw would be enough to clinch them the series and the number one Test rankings in the ICC charts.
“It’s really a great feeling. Not many teams get an opportunity to win series in India and in our two tours we have had that opportunity now,” he said.
“Going into the Eden Test with 1-0 up in the series...For many cricketers this is a life time opportunity to win a series in India. That really ticks you off and get yourselves motivated. Something that you really want to achieve and makes you really excited about it,” the South African skipper added.
Eden Gardens’ pitch has been a major talking point ever since India’s innings and six runs loss in Nagpur. The BCCI reportedly asked the Cricket Association of Bengal to prepare a turning track, a demand that was turned down.
Smith said such a controversy would work to his team’s advantage in the match.
“There has been a lot of talk about the wicket. It looked pretty good yesterday. I am sure it will be a pretty good wicket as always here. Good Test wicket. Let’s hope that this little distraction helps us,” he said.
Asked whether they were more concerned about winning the series or getting to the number one spot in ICC rankings, Smith said, “One takes care of the other.”
“We know in next five days, if we can produce really good cricket then rankings will take care of itself... Winning this series is certainly going to be a terrific thing at the end of your career,” he added.
He lavished praise on his pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who had a match haul of 10 wickets in their Nagpur victory.
“He has been consistently good. He has been able to adapt to all the conditions he has played in. He has just matured as a cricketer and the way he thinks about the game. He is a great asset to have.”
Asked about a Steyn vs Gautam Gambhir battle, Smith said, “Gambhir has played a lot in the sub-continent, he is a good player of spin and has done well here. His test is going to be how he travels the world.”
Despite the huge margin of their win in Nagpur, Smith refused to take India lightly and expected the hosts to bounce back.
“I don’t expect India to change much in their combination they are used to playing. I guess one Test match loss and they are trying not to panic. From our perspective it’s about executing our gameplans,” he said.
Indian bowling attack might have come a cropper in Nagpur but Smith said: “There is quality in Indian line-up. Zaheer, Harbhajan are the leading wicket takers for India in last year or two. The quality is there.”