On a day when South Africa expectedly finished an innings win, some consolation came India’s way. After the post-match presentation, Zaheer Khan bowled a spell on the same pitch that the Test was played on, along with Ishant Sharma. MS Dhoni confirmed that Zaheer was fit, and would play the second Test. Dhoni also admitted that he was worried “to some extent” about how Suresh Raina went, but was hopeful he would bounce back.
“You need a bit of experience to play under these conditions,” he said. “What really happens is you tour once in four-five years. The last time he came here was in 2006, and he was not part of the side. After that he played some ODIs and T20s, which is a completely different format. With the red ball, the approach changes, the mindset changes. You need a bit of time. It always helps. I think he will get back to form soon.”
Raina lasted three balls in the first innings, hanging his bat outside off to a short-of-a-length delivery, and followed it with a steer straight into the slips in the second. However, Dhoni said that any decision on Raina’s selection for Durban will be made later.
South Africa, on the other hand, have added JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell to the group of 12 named for this match. Effectively that means Johan Botha has been dropped from the original 15 that was picked for the series. The only possible change in the XI for Durban – injuries barring – could involve Lonwabo Tsotsobe, whom the Indian batsmen targeted, but Smith wasn’t harsh on the seamer.
“He’s inexperienced, he has to grow as a cricketer and we have to give him the tools,” Smith said. “In the one-day format, he is developing already, it shows with his performances in Dubai and Abu Dhabi [against Pakistan]. He has only played three Test matches and he has a lot of developing to do. He is bowling behind an attack that has a lot of pace. I think the opposition may target him a little more and that’ll provide him with the opportunity. He needs to be strong in his own head and he’ll get rewards.”
Smith said the comeback of Zaheer – who has dismissed him nine times in 20 innings across all formats – didn’t worry him. “I don’t personalise things too much. I prepare for Zaheer the same way I prepare for everyone else. He’s a new-ball bowler, I’m an opening batter, so it’s a natural challenge. He has obviously bowled well to left-handers, so it’s an exciting prospect.”