/ 2 July 2007

Kallis takes long-term view after India defeat

South Africa stand-in skipper Jacques Kallis said the way in which younger players had made their mark eased some of the pain involved in a 2-1 one-day international series defeat against India.

Three close matches at Stormont ended on Sunday with India’s second successive six-wicket win, this time with four balls to spare, in a fixture reduced by rain to 31 overs per side.

But on a short tour where future development was the priority for the Proteas, all-rounder Vernon Philander and off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala produced encouraging performances even if the 22-year-old duo were both omitted from the finale in a conservative team selection.

South Africa, who had the worst of conditions, made 148 for seven after slumping to 28 for four thanks mainly to a fifth-wicket stand of 99 between Herschelle Gibbs (56) and Justin Kemp (61), fit again after a thigh problem.

Kallis, leading the World Cup semifinalists in the absence of injured opening batsman and regular captain Graeme Smith, said: ”We came on this tour wanting to give a lot of guys opportunities. Kempy came in and played unbelievably — he’s been in the set-up for a long time now and has been a regular.”

”We thought that the conditions would suit the seamers — especially with the rain around. To bowl spin with a wet ball — and there was a good chance of that happening — was going to be tough.

”We’d given Thandi a couple of games and needed to have a look at [fast bowler] Dale Steyn as well,” Kallis explained.

”The way the new guys have come in and performed has shown we do have a bit of depth in South Africa — which is useful for us, moving forward.

”We are trying to create variety in our bowling attack — and we’ve seen a few options on this tour and the Afro-Asia tour.

”We came here with a young side, and I don’t think we’ve performed badly against a very strong Indian side,” said Kallis whose team next play international cricket against neighbours Zimbabwe in August before South Africa hosts the inaugural World Twenty20 in September.

Yuvraj Singh proved a key man for India, who came from 1-0 behind, his 61 not out Sunday following his unbeaten 49 in another six-wicket win on Friday. ”He’s an experienced player who’s been in those situations before — and he played the game perfectly,” said Kallis.

India face England in three Tests and seven one-day internationals starting with the first Test at Lord’s later this month and all-rounder Kallis added: ”I’ve always thought the Indians have been a strong side and perhaps over the years haven’t performed as well as they could have.

”I think they’re getting a good balance in the side with senior and junior players. I think it is going to help them that they’ve had a series against us and I think it will be a tough series between them and England.” – Sapa-AFP