Whodunnit: Graeme Smith says it was tail's call to not push for win
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It was a decision that took almost everyone at the Wanderers by surprise, not just the thousands in the crowd who started booing their own South African team. As Vernon Philander began refusing singles in the penultimate over of the innings, you could see that even the home team dressing-room throwing puzzled looks at each other.
In fact, with South Africa requiring 16 runs off 18 balls with three wickets in hand, Philander and Dale Steyn played out two maiden overs.
At one point AB de Villiers walked out onto the balcony with his arms outstretched with a sense of disbelief, to which a haggard Faf du Plessis, who was run out with 19 balls left, replied with a shake of the head.
Eventually South Africa fell just eight runs short off chasing down 458 with three wickets still left, and Philander unbeaten on an aggressive 25. Not surprisingly, the tailender's approach was something that Graeme Smith had to explain after the match. What was surprising was Smith's revelation that the call to shut shop had been taken by the two tailenders in the middle.
Team supports call
"I think we as a team have to support the decision Dale and Vernon made in the middle. In a two-Test series, with one match to go, there is an opportunity to go and win the series in Durban. We have to believe in the decision that Dale and Vernon made," he said, answering a query about whether the No.1 team in the world had surrendered to a fear of failure.
But that wasn't just it. Smith was then asked whether he or the team management had sent any message down to Philander and Steyn while they were at the crease. "The message was to set it up for the last over. Then there were a couple of maidens bowled, which made it difficult. I think ultimately we needed to give Vernon an opportunity to win us the game. I think he was the guy that probably would have done that. It never happened. At that stage you can't send out messages between overs. That is not allowed," he explained.