Polished Proteas delight Smith
Skipper hails team effort in Nagpur
Last Updated: 09/02/10 3:25pm
Smith: full of praise
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was full of praise for his team after they secured victory by an innings and six runs in the first Test against India.
"I think it was one of the best performances of pace bowling I've seen in the recent past."
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The Proteas completed the win inside four days in Nagpur as India, 325 behind on first innings, were bowled out for 319 second time around, despite a century from Sachin Tendulkar.
Spinner Paul Harris ran through India's middle order with three wickets, while paceman Dale Steyn, who claimed 7-51 in the first innings, cleaned up the tail to finish with 10 in the match.
"It's been an outstanding performance from the guys, four days of clinical stuff," said Smith, whose side's preparations were disrupted when long-serving coach Mickey Arthur quit and the entire selection committee were sacked just prior to the squad's departure for India.
"To win here requires a lot of discipline and hard work and the guys showed a lot of consistency.
"There were some great individual performances which deserve accolades.
"Jacques (Kallis) and Hashim (Amla) with the bat and Dale with the ball, but I think it was a great team effort.
"It's been a pretty tough, emotional two weeks for us with all the changes and stuff, but credit should go to the players for the maturity they have shown.
"Everyone has shown a hunger to do well and I think each player has shown his worth and has played in a good spirit."
Steyn destroyed India with a burst of wickets in the evening session on the third day, claiming five in just 3.4 overs as India crashed from 192-3 to 233 all out in their first innings.
"Everything happened so quickly, even for us," Smith added.
"It was terrific to watch and it's great to have guys of that calibre in your line-up who can just run in and make a big difference in the game."
Left-armer Harris came in for some flak following a poor series against England but Smith believes he is a vital member of the team.
"Harris is an important player in our side as well," he said. "He isn't the most outstanding, but he does a terrific job in our team, he allows everyone else to get the glory around him.
"It was really good to see him come out with confidence here and perform solidly for us and show he is prepared to do the dirty work for the team."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded his side had been second best throughout.
"There is no doubt we were completely outplayed in this game," he said.
"The surface was best to bat on on the first day and Kallis and Amla batted really well while the others batted around them.
"And then there was Steyn's performance. I think it was one of the best performances of pace bowling I've seen in the recent past.
"If you consider the two innings, of the top 14 batsmen I think seven of them got out to brilliant deliveries."
Dhoni refused to blame his bowlers who were innocuous on the first two days as South Africa eased to a big total.
"It's unfair to blame the bowlers because they were bowling on a wicket that was good for batting," he continued.
"The session that really made the difference was the post-tea session yesterday when the ball was changed.
"We lost five, six wickets and we were completely under pressure.
"We had our chances of saving the follow-on, but once we lost Virender Sehwag (in the first innings) and I fell immediately, it was too much to expect from the tail."