South Africa went into the Kanpur Test 1-0 up in the series, knowing they were on the verge of completing a remarkable treble in the subcontinent, having already triumphed in Bangladesh and Pakistan in the past one year.
They visitors were greeted with a pitch expected to take to turn soon, and they practised hard to cope with the conditions, even scuffing up the practice wickets with their spikes to simulate the rough outside the off and leg stumps.
Graeme Smith, their captain, appeared relaxed a day before the Test, quietly confident of his team's ability. "There have been only two teams in the last 20 years that have won a series in India," Graeme Smith said at the pre-match press conference. "It just proves how tough it really is. As a team we have looked for this opportunity for the whole season."
Having won the toss, Smith promptly decided to bat. He strode to bat, and strung together vital partnerships with fellow top-order batsmen Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla to get South Africa off to a confident start. On a deteriorating pitch, the earlier you batted, the better the conditions, and Smith and Co capitalised.
Some poor bowling from India early on helped their cause, as both Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth erred in their line. Smith got off the blocks quickly, and nudged a straighter delivery from Ishant through the midwicket boundary.
Another Ishant delivery on the pads was dealt with in the same manner, but Smith was later lucky that no third slip was in position when an outside-edge off the same bowler evaded second slip and flew to the third-man boundary.
Spinners were called into action, but both Smith and McKenzie were up for the task, staying back and playing late unlike their technique against the quicker bowlers, when they largely played on the front foot.
Smith chanced his arm against the young Piyush Chawla, and though McKenzie perished while taking a risk, it didn't deter Smith, who brought up his fifty with a six over midwicket.
His partnership with McKenzie was for 61 runs, and with Amla he added another 91, before falling to the part-time spin of Yuvraj Singh. Having already hit a four and a six in the over, Smith was done in by the bowler, with the ball bouncing a bit more and hitting his glove before settling into the hands of the short-leg fielder. Smith fell for 69, the top score in South Africa's innings.
He would have been disappointed not to have gone on, and perhaps would reflect on his dismissal with regret, as South Africa were bowled out for 265; when Smith departed, the scoreboard read 152 for 2.