New Delhi, Dec 18 : Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team should have at least played a practice match ahead of the first Test that's underway at the Centurion.
"It was an important toss to lose if you take the conditions under consideration. Also the fact that you entered straightaway into a Test match without playing a practice game made things even more difficult", Ganguly said.
"The pitch was a bit damp after rain and it was difficult conditions for batting," Ganguly said at the end of Bengal's Ranji Trophy match against the Railways at the Karnail Singh ground today.
Ganguly, who scored a gutsy half century in Johannesburg in India's only Test victory in South Africa during the 2006-07 tour feels that the Indians need to get their act quickly in order to make a comeback.
"They have already had their backs to the wall in this Test match. So the quicker they can apply themselves and make comeback, it's better for the team. Remember one thing, after Centurion, they would be next playing in Durban which is another fast deck," he said.
When asked whether Zaheer Khan's absence in the Test match is hurting team's bowling, he replied, "Zaheer is only human. He will get injured. But I look at it from a different perspective. If someone gets injured, it means that it's an opportunity for another player to make a mark.
"Even if Zaheer would have been there, Ishant and Sreesanth need to bowl well from the other end to keep the momentum going. Tomorrow, Harbhajan might get injured. Then one would expect Ravichandran Ashwin to do well just the like the young Tamil Nadu offie did against New Zealand in the recently concluded ODI series."
Incidentally, the pace trio of Sreesanth, Ishant and Jaydev Unadkat went wicketless on the second day as South Africa smashed their way to 366 for 2.
Ganguly who has been a very vocal supporter of Gautam Gambhir defended the Delhi opener who looked out of sorts against short-pitched stuff.
"Gautam is a class player and he will definitely make a comeback. You have to understand that there is always a start. Gautam is playing his first Test in South Africa. Even great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid had their first tour of South Africa where they had to sort out a few things.
"Players like Gautam, Suresh Raina, Jaydev (Unadkat) are all playing their first Test matches in South Africa. They can only get better with experience and rise to the occasion."
When the topic of IPL came up for discussion, Ganguly said that it won't be a problem to play for any other franchise although he would love to play for Kolkata Knight Riders."I will be up for auctions. Where I would play is not in my control although I would love to play for KKR as I have done well for them last year.
"The only thing that I can control is my performance. I was a bit rusty during this particular match against ailways. I will be playing in the National Twenty20 and National One Dayers. The more I play, the better I will get," he added. PTI