India's lead made big difference: Smith

South Africa captain says India's first innings lead took the game away from them. He described Sourav Ganguly innings as fantastic.

updated: April 13, 2008 14:36 IST
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South African captain Graeme Smith on Sunday said India's 60-run first innings lead turned the third and final cricket Test in favour of the hosts on a track where the "margin of error is too small".

"I think that 60-run lead in the first innings was the turning point. It was really crucial and it put us under pressure. Full credit to the Indians as they really bowled and utilised the conditions better," Smith said after the hosts won the match by eight wickets to level the three-match series

"It is a track where the margin of error is too small.

There were some little things which we could have done better.

Once India got that lead, it was difficult to come back, the last wicket pair really frustrated us", he said.

Smith said a target of 150 or so would have given his team a chance but they could not exert much pressure for a target of 62.

"I think a target of 150 would have been challenging as the wicket was deteriorating quickly. But a target of just 62 gave them the freedom to play their shots as they knew it was not a big score. In the end, I think that first innings lead was crucial."

Smith said his bowlers were too anxious to dismiss the last wicket pair and a result could not bowl in the right areas, unlike the Indians who exploited the conditions well.

"The Indian bowlers really bowled well. Also full credit to Sourav Ganguly, it was his fantastic knock which helped India come back into the game".

Though Smith was "disappointed" with the loss, he said his team will take a lot of positives from the tour.

"It is difficult to beat India at home. But we have done well here and will take a lot of positives from this tour. We have done well in the sub-continent this summer beating Pakistan and Bangladesh. We are confident of competing well in the coming series against England and South Africa."

On whether he was happy with the team he was given in view of the selection policy which makes it mandatory for a certain number of black or coloured players to be selected, he said "I don't want to raise such issues. I only hope that there are not too many mishaps about team selections and administrative issues in the future."

Asked to rate Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain, Smith said "It is far too early to rate him as captain after just one Test match. He can only be judged after a few Tests".