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Statement from Smith, Pathan
- Miraculous recovery and a stunning comeback

Calcutta: It wasn't too long ago that Graeme Smith emphasised a 'good captain must actually be a leader'

On Sunday, the South African showed he is one when he went for the toss, at the Eden, not many hours after being forced on crutches.

Smith's own commitment apart, team physio Shane Jabaar played a big hand in getting him moving on both feet.

Indeed, Smith (captain since after the 2003 World Cup) made a statement and his standing as a leader has jumped a couple of notches.

Smith, it may be recalled, featured in a freak accident on Saturday, with the front wheel of a courtesy car going over his left foot in the team hotel's porch.

According to sources, the South Africans had prepared for a Test without Smith, so much so that Jacques Rudolph was asked to ready himself for an opener's role.

The captain's overnight recovery, however, was miraculous.

'Oh, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Graeme at about 6.45 am' I didn't expect him to be so much better' It's only then that I began a bit of neuro-muscular facilitation,' Jabaar told The Telegraph.

Asked whether he administered a magic potion, the physio laughed: 'Not at all' Looking back, what helped is the injury's early management' Also, Smith responded well to the splint that was quickly prepared'

In Jabaar's opinion, Smith's recovery continues to be fast and he should soon be firing on all cylinders. Around for over two years, the physio's contract with the United Cricket Board is till August 2005.

Smith himself accepted he 'wasn't' at a hundred per cent. 'Of course, I hope to be there soon,' he added.

Young Irfan Pathan, too, made a statement by returning the opening day's best figures: Three for 61.

Pathan, who has transformed the body language of our attack, is in his comeback Test and, well, it couldn't have gone better.

Whatever the Team India combination, he appears indispensable.

Pathan evicted Smith on the very second ball and, then, picked up two wickets in his third spell. Yet, it was spell No. 2 which saw him (and the reverse swing) leave the South Africans confounded.

At the start of this season, it was Sachin Tendulkar who spoke of Pathan's swing being 'God's gift.' For the South Africans, though, it was hell.

High on confidence, Pathan is looking at authoring his maiden five-wicket haul, at the Eden.

'The end-result isn't in my hands and, at best, I can continue working hard' My aim is to get the maximum wickets (on Monday),' he declared.

A billion good wishes are with him.

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