Nagpur:India may be facing the prospect of an innings defeat inside four days but dashing opener Virender Sehwag on Monday sounded confident that the hosts would pull a rabbit out of the hat and save the opening Test against South Africa.
"Against Australia (in 2001) we had followed on and won. Anything can happen in this game. Sachin Tendulkar is still batting and he's a very experienced hand. Murali Vijay is also batting well. We will fight it out," said the flamboyant opener who scored his 18th hundred in India's first innings.
India, who trailed South Africa by a massive 325 runs in the first innings, were 66 for the loss of Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in the second innings and needed 259 runs more to stave off an innings defeat with only eight wickets and a largely inexperienced lower order to come.
Sehwag, who made 109 and also put on 136 runs for the fourth wicket with debutant Subramaniam Badrinath (56) in the first innings, said the hosts were disappointed with their performance on Monday.
"We are all upset we did not bat well. We needed a few more partnerships going but we have to give credit to Dale Steyn who bowled very well. He used the swing to get the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Murali Vijay (in the first innings). He also reverse swung the ball well after the ball was changed just after tea," he said.
Sehwag said the ball had gone a bit soft and the umpires agreed to request by the visitors for a change of ball that was followed by Steyn's devastating spell of reverse swing which fetched him five wickets for three runs in 3.4 overs.
Steyn cleaned up the Indian lower order to end the innings with a career-best 7 for 51.
Sehwag felt the home team batsmen can stall the South African victory charge but need to look out for runs too instead of simply defending tomorrow.
"We still have very good batsmen remaining. They should also play shots as runs too matter. We will try to bat as long as we can," said the 31-year-old batsman.
He also praised S Badrinath for his effort, saying the Tamil Nadu batsman applied himself well during their century stand.
"Badrinath is a very good player. He has made lot of runs in domestic cricket. I told him to enjoy his batting and he did well," he said.
Asked why he chose to stay away from the short balls dished in plenty by the South African pace duo of Steyn and Morne Morkel, Sehwag said he was not a good puller or hooker and felt it was better to leave alone the short stuff.
"I'm not a good puller or hooker of the ball," he explained.
Sehwag, who threw away his wicket in both the innings, said he cannot predict how the wicket will behave over the last two days but can only say "it will not get better".