Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taking on the Proteas

Best Blog Tips

This is India's best chance to win a series in South Africa. India's main hope is that South Africa are not exceptionally formidable at home. They have lost to England and Australia at home. They were also unable to close the deal against Pakistan in the UAE, despite Steyn and Morkel in their ranks. Granted that it would have been a different deal if it was a home series against Pakistan.

Shaun Pollock delivered the last time India visited. Neither Steyn nor Morkel are a Pollock. He tormented the Indians every time he picked up the bat or ball and was rightly declared man of the series. His economy rate was fantastic. Fortunately for India, he will not be around this time.

The good news for India is that Tendulkar is going through a renaissance. The last time he visited South Africa he was in a funk. Although, he hit a few fifties, he was not at his best. Prior to that series he had an average of 20.85 in the six tests he played in 2006.

The biggest difference is in the coaching change. Chapell was messing with the team then. That sordid saga has been written often enough. Ganguly had made a comeback and despite useful contributions, he probably wasn't a positive force in team due to the tensions with the coach. Therefore, mentally, this Indian team must be in much better shape.

This is the second tour for most of the players. In addition, there is the experience of playing in the IPL in South Africa too. Overall, India should be much better equipped this time to overcome the home advantage that South Africa enjoys.

From South Africa's stand-point, despite their inability to close the deal against Pakistan, Amla's stupendous form is a huge asset. If he continues in the same vein, South Africa may very well win the series. A solid number 3 batsman can work wonders for the rest of the batsmen. We all know the wins India enjoyed when Dravid was at his very best. Even though Dravid has faded somewhat, it's clear that his contribution is vital in most cases if India have to avoid relying on a Laxman rescue act all the time.

South Africa though have a soft underbelly. Ashwell Prince may have had a wonderful series last time India were there, but he is unlikely to repeat it this time. South Africa will improve their chances significantly if they bring Duminy into the side. Duminy will bring to the South African team what Symonds brought to Australia. But Duminy is not playing the first test and there I think SA selectors have erred greatly. Kallis is a stock player and I have never rated him as a game changer. Perhaps erroneously so, but some perceptions are hard to change.

Given all this, it comes down to the bowling. I believe India have the attack to get 20 wickets per game. I don't believe Unadkat or Yadav will get a game. In fact, the selectors might send Munaf out there if there are any injuries. I also think Abhimanyu Mithun hasn't hurt his chances with a very good domestic season.

South Africa's weak link is likely to be Johan Botha. He is neither a bowler nor a batsman. A perfect T20 player and a good ODI player, but not test material. Once again, I base this on no more evidence than the rubbish he produced in the UAE. But he too has been left out of the first test which is good news for SA and bad news for India.

Tsotsobe or McLaren are both likely to trouble Indian batsmen who are not ever comfortable against genuine speed on bouncy wickets. Keeping the third fast bowler in the attack will keep Indian batsmen from relaxing. This might also be good to prevent Raina and Dhoni from delivering late order revivals. Along with Kallis, it will likely be huge advantage to South Africa. Perhaps even the scale-tipper.

India's lottery is Suresh Raina. But I'm quite confident he can deliver more runs than Ganguly did the last time round. I also think his bowling will come in handy in South Africa. Harbhajan will have to play to provide variety and hold fort every once in a while, but Dhoni may turn to Raina or Sehwag occasionally too.

So I'll end this post the way I started. This is India's best chance for a series win in South Africa.

Related Posts...

  1. India in South Africa: The Essential Certification
  2. Opinions On...UDRS
  3. Season Finale

No comments: