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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

India's tough tour to South Africa - Will they win a test in the land of Proteas ?

It’s a hectic schedule and one should feel sorry for Daniel Vettori – a 5/0 loss is certainly bad.  Living to close to Chepauk stadium and seeing the way it has been raining in Chennai for the past month, thought that it was a joke to have an ODI here.  It just stopped in time  allowed play and Kiwis contrived to lose the game in almost half a day.  The performance of debutant captain Gautam Gambhir with his relatively new squad  must be too rosy for the preparation for WC 2011.

India has embarked on a tough tour to the land of Proteas.  Perhaps to beat the complacency and get back to ground realities, this tour to South Africa will help.   Indian team is already there and tomorrow the First Test starts at Centurion (Dec 16-20) 1400 IST.  Alongside veterans Sachin, Laxman, Dravid, Sehwag, we have Pujara, Umesh Yadav, Jaidev Unadkat touring.  Whether these youngsters would get a chance is anybody’s guess !

SA at home is very formidable and since their comeback in 1992 have lost only 5 test series in 31. (4 against Aussies and 1 againsg England).  The rest of the itinerary is as under :
Date               Match      Venue         Time
Dec 16-20   First Test     Centurion   1400 IST
Dec 26-30   Second Test          Durban       1400 IST
Year 2011
Jan 2-6       Third Test   Cape Town  1400 IST
Jan 9           Twenty20 International (D/N) Durban       1800 IST

Jan 12        First ODI     Durban       1430 IST
Jan 15        Second ODI Johannesburg      1430 IST
Jan 18        Third ODI    Cape Town  1430 IST
Jan 21        Fourth ODI Port Elizabeth       1430 IST
Jan 23        Fifth ODI     Centurion   1430 IST

India has not performed great in away series and have struggled against SA there.  Even when we got the top order back, we have struggled to mop up the tail, allow easy consolidation, which in the end would prove too costly. 


Our record against Proteas has not been too good with only 6 wins and only a solitary win at their soil in 12 matches.  It is the time to better the record.   The likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel is likely to make the life miserable in bowler friendly conditions.  A good start from the pair of Viru and Gauti should make India good for we have always struggled to get a decent opening start and partnerships have not been blossoming.   The solidness of Dravid, Sachin and Laxman would be felt on the bouncy tracks – it is not only form but mental toughness which would be required to succeed.    I would pledge Pujara for the spot against Raina.  Bhaji has not had good outings but should love the bounce available there. 

The seam attack of SA is far more qualitative than our own brand of Zaheer (whether fully fit ?), Ishant and Sreesanth.  On the other day I had posted one on Sreesanth not being effective and not economical in One dayers.  But the only win in SA soil came due to his efforts is not to be forgotten.  Again an unknown quantity like Jaidev Unakdat would perhaps make a huge dent in SA armour.

To recall our ecstatic moment India won the First Test at New Wanderers. Johannesburg in 2006 – 07 season played on 15-18 Dec 2006.   Indians led by Dravid won the Toss and were all out for 249 in first essay with Ganguly top scoring with unbeaten 51.  sachin made 44.  Shaun Pollock claimed 4/39 backed by Ntini with 3.  Steyn went wicketless.  India in fact played only 4 bowlers of which Vikramrajvir Singh (Who ??) was raw.  SA innings lasted only 25.1 overs and were surprisingly bowled out for 84 with Sreesanth taking 5/40 in 10.

Jaffer was again out soon and from 61/4, India recovered to 236 – thanks to a good innings by VVS (73); Sehwag (33), Ganguly (25) and Zaheer (37) were the other contributors.   The 70 run partnership of Laxman with Zaheer brought respectability.  Set to score imposing 402, SA were all out in 86.5 overs for 278.  Prince made 97.  Zaheer, Sreesanth and Kumble shared 3 apiece. 

India won by 123 runs and the match was over in the 4th day itself.  Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was the Man of the match.  History tends to repeat itself with remarkable regularity – which part of history is of relevance and importance to us.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. Zaheer is not going to play and Unakdat is likely to make his debut. Hope it is a fiery debut and he bamboozles SA out for a paltry score, enabling an Indan win - Jaya