The South African team seemed a bit relieved following a look of the Kotla strip    Getty Images
The South African team seemed a bit relieved following a look of the Kotla strip Getty Images

New Delhi: Its confidence in tatters after being entangled in a spin web on a rank turned in Jamtha, the South African team seemed a bit relieved following a look of the Kotla strip, with assistant coach Adrian Birrell saying that it could “last more than three days”. Having already lost the four-Test series 0-2 with first and third matches getting over within three days, and second game being washed out, South Africa will play for pride here in the fourth and last Test, commencing on Thursday. “We have had a look at the pitch. We are playing in India and we expect pitches to turn. This one looks like to go on for more than three days. We are happy with what we saw. Like every other pitch, we are happy to play on what we are provided with. But we have not played good cricket yet, so we are determined to put up a good performance,” Birrell, a former chief coach of the Ireland national team, said. Amit Mishra: India have faced challenging pitches away from home in the past

Birrell was graceful to admit that they were “outplayed” by the home team. “Look it is beyond India. Quite a few Test matches are ending in three days. I mean the D/N pink ball Test [between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide] did not go full distance. There are very few draws with T20 cricket. Runs are coming a lot quicker. I won’t say whether it is good or bad. Every nation wants to win a Test series. India have won a series and they have outplayed us. No complaints. We are looking forward to trying and outplaying them,” said the former leg-spinner. Dale Steyn skips nets practice ahead of India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi

Asked what has been the difference between the two sides, Birrell said that it boiled down to India having better quality spinners as batsmen of both the teams have struggled. “Amla is most precise preparer for a match that I have ever met. We followed his cue as to what we will face in a match. We have struggled with bat, we have had only two half-centuries. But India lost last eight batsmen for 38 runs in Nagpur. They have also struggled. The difference has been that they have had better spin bowlers. There hasn’t been a 100 partnership. Both sides have been short of runs,” he said. Amit Mishra: Spinners did not get credit they deserve for India’s series victory against South Africa

The assistant coach also admitted that his batsmen have not played Ravichandran Ashwin well enough. “He [Ashwin] has probably bowled tighter than anybody and hasn’t given us any bad balls. We dished up a few easy runs for India and we had to fight when we batted, as he did not give us any easy runs. Also he is on top of his game. He is an outstanding bowler. He has done very well in the three Test series so far. It is a challenge to try and used to playing him. We have not done well, but we have to keep trying,” said Birrell.

Birrell, however, insisted there was no lack of motivation. “We are looking forward to playing another Test match. Every single Test match is important for us. We are looking to play good cricket. We haven’t played good cricket yet. Every single player is determined to put up a good performance in this Test.” He also clarified that there were no complaints about the pitch.

“No complaints, we relish this opportunity,” was his politically correct reply. “The positive aspect for South Africa is the second innings partnership between Amla and Faf du Plessis. In the 2nd innings [in Nagpur], there was good application from Hashim and Faf. They put up a good fight. I liked what Hashim told us during the match…’Win or lose, we will put up an honourable fight’,” he said.

Birrell hinted there could be a few changes in the line-up. “I think every single player is available for selection. They are not here to make numbers. They are here to put names in their hats. I am not a selector. The selectors are busy chatting about right combination for the pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some one or two other faces in the team come Thursday,” he revealed.

Stating that it is the mutual relationship between Amla, Faf and De Villiers that has led to the three-captain theory being so successful, Birrell said, “Three captains work very well together. Every single series, there is tremendous pressure on the leaders. May be, it would not have the case if they have not got on well. But in this case, they get along very well, very refreshing everyone gets a break one format to the next. I think it is working very well.”