Proteas' hopes of comeback lie with dismissal of Laxman

AB de Villiers believes that dislodging VVS Laxman early today will be key to South Africa's hopes of winning the second Test against India at Kingsmead.

The veteran batsman, whose first-innings 38 remains the highest score in the match so far, was unbeaten on 23 after another wicket-filled day in Durban.

A total of 18 scalps were taken on a day dominated by the bowlers with the tourists first bowled out for 205 and the hosts replying with a sorry 131.

India reached 92-4 by the close – a lead of 166 – with Cheteshwar Pujara (10) keeping Laxman company in conditions that required patience rather than stroke making which most of the batsmen seemed to try.

"We're obviously aware of him," De Villiers said. "He's been there for India before, playing big innings under pressure and he's there once again.

"He's a player that can also help the young guys through, so we're going to have to get our game plans right and see the back of him first thing in the morning."

The Proteas batsman lamented the way the home side had performed in their first innings and was thankful to the bowlers for keeping them alive in the Test.

He continued: "There were a lot of wickets, but I thought we batted extremely poorly, there were quite a few soft wickets.

"They bowled well, but 18 wickets in a day I don't think is a true reflection of how the wicket is playing. It's definitely playing better than that.

"But again, thanks to our bowlers.

"It's pretty balanced at the moment and if we can come out (today) nice and positive then we can come out on top here.

"It's definitely going to be a big day for both teams and I think whoever picks up their hand can come out on top."

And De Villiers admitted they were expecting a fightback from the Indians after they were outplayed in the first Test loss at Centurion.

He added: "They are the No 1 team in the world and you always expect the No 1 side to bounce back after a poor performance.

"That's what they did and they definitely caught us off-side and really played the better cricket today."

India's key men in dismissing South| Africa cheaply were Harbhajan Singh (4-10) and Zaheer Khan (3-36).