Sport

Proteas' win a tribute to Kallis, says Smith

Michael Sherman

SA captain Graeme Smith says his team's victory over India was part of "a fitting tribute" to Jacques Kallis, who has announced his retirement.

Jacques Kallis has announced his retirement from Tests. (Gallo)

In the wake of a series win over India, South African captain Graeme Smith says the Proteas wanted to give Jacques Kallis the send-off he deserved.

“All of us wanted the win for him,” Smith said in Durban on Monday.

“We wanted the win as a fitting tribute to Jacques but the weather and the pitch made life a little more difficult."

South Africa beat India by 10 wickets at Kingsmead in the second of a two-Test series, clinching the two-match series 1-0 after the first Test at the Wanderers was drawn.

It was also the final Test for the 166-match veteran Kallis, who announced his retirement from Tests on Wednesday.

Losing several hours to rain and bad light, Smith said it made it more difficult to get a result in the game, especially after India had ended the first day on 181 for one on a good batting surface.

“To have the ability to turn it around and win like we did is a huge achievement.

"It was an incredible win."

Kallis steals headlines
While Kallis battled with cramps near the end of his innings, the captain said it was credit to Kallis's character he was able to pull the team through to their big first innings total of 500.

While Kallis stole most of the headlines, scoring a century in the first innings for a fairytale ending to his Test career, Smith said the performance of spinner Robin Peterson was also crucial.

Peterson came into the team replacing spin bowler Imran Tahir, after an unremarkable game at the Wanderers, and was given the holding role.

He also chipped in with a fast 61, off 52 balls, with the bat. Picking up 4/74 in the second innings was key to South Africa restricting India to 223, and a paltry lead of 57 which the Proteas knocked off in 11.4 overs.

"Both our spinners have faced challenging times," Smith said.

"Robbie performed superbly with the bat last night. He brings a good balance to the team.

"The four wickets were hugely rewarding. Without those four wickets, I don't think we would have got a win."

'Jacque's replacement'
As for a replacement for Kallis in the three upcoming Tests against Australia in February, Smith said there could never be a straight replacement for the all-rounder.

“I don't think we are ever going to replace Jacques.

“The sooner we face that, the better. With 13 000 runs, almost 300 wickets and 200 catches, the type of personality and experience he brings to the team, that's hard to follow.

“The goal is to get tactically smart. In the next Test match, AB de Villiers offers an all-rounder role. It allows us an opportunity to look at an all-rounder or an extra batter.

“I don't think anyone who gets picked should be labelled as Jacque's replacement.

“What Jacques has left is huge. It's important that the next guy gets a fresh start.” – Sapa

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