Centurion: South African captain Graeme Smith on Sunday praised Indian batsman Yusuf Pathan who threatened to single-handedly win the game for India with his brutal 70-ball 105.
"He almost took the game away from us. We all know Yusuf's potential. Today he was incredible. He was timing the ball so sweetly. He was clearing the rope at will. All credit to Yusuf for the fantastic knock he played," said Smith.
Smith said that winning the ODI series against India was all the more commendable as they had fought back from 1-2 down and this victory would be a morale booster for next month's World Cup.
"It was a lot more exciting than what I had thought. Going in to the Port Elizabeth match we were 1-2 down. We were the team under pressure and we were expected to do well under pressure. Obviously for me guys doing so well and we winning the series was very special," he said at the post-match press conference after his side beat India by 33 runs.
"We have learnt some important lessons from this series. We could have been 0-3 or even 0-4 going in to this game. Some of the decisions we have made let us down. It has been hard cricket throughout the series. You have to be at your best to win the series and that is exactly what we did.
"So we are feeling a very good team spirit going in to the World Cup. To do well in the World Cup guys need to get some good rest. Then we can start our preparation and we are going to play two warm up games. Keeping yourself fresh is going to be crucial," he said.
Asked about the prospect of his side in the World Cup, Smith said, "World Cup is going to be a different proposition. It is nice to carry this confidence of a series win. We will go to India with Jacques Kallis coming in the team. Because of that we will have many more combinations to choose from. During the World Cup, wickets will be more batting friendly and we need to adapt our mindset for that."
Asked why Imran Tahir was not played in the series, Smith said he has been shielded to make him a surprise package during the World Cup.