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MTN/CASTLE Summer Spice Test Series

 
 
United Cricket Board of South Africa
Results & Scores
South Africa won by an innings and 73 runs
India 232 & 261 (84.1 ov)
South Africa 566/8d
[Scorecard]



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A familiar Indian tale
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 08 November 2001

Sachin Tendulkar

AFP
India let slip a golden opportunity to write a new chapter in their cricketing history at Bloemfontein. Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag's glorious fight back on the first day saw India recovering to post 379 on the board in the first innings. But from there we failed to fire ourselves onwards to the victory podium. What we ended up with was a sorry capitulation before the end of even the fourth day. Truly, a ridiculous defeat.

This Test has proved yet again that India cannot to deliver in alien conditions even against an attack made up of only one excellent bowler. Shaun Pollock, the South African captain, almost single- handedly fashioned his side's victory with his first ten-wicket haul in Tests. All the Indian batsmen cut a sorry figure against him in the Indian second innings. It was another gutless, spineless show by a majority of the Indian willow-wielders and once Sachin Tendulkar got out we knew which flag would be flying at the end of the day.

Sourav Ganguly now will have to do a lot of thinking both as a batsman and a captain. It is common knowledge in international cricket that Sourav is a sitting duck to the rising delivery. The South African bowlers exploited his failing to the hilt and he was out in an almost identical fashion in both innings. It was Clive Lloyd who fashioned the use of the short ball as a demon delivery with which to cow the opposing captain. Sourav's weakness has meant that the short delivery has once again become a popular option with almost every captain facing him, even those with attacks which could never be classed with the fabulous West Indies pace battery of the late seventies and early eighties. Unless Sourav, the batsman, irons out this glaring technical deficiency he will have trouble leading from the front in Tests.

Ganguly and Wright
© AFP
The Indian skipper will also have to tell almost all his batsmen to pull up their socks and deliver a much better display in the next Test. In Bloemfontein, only Sachin and Sehwag delivered, and despite their magnificence, the Indian batting in the two innings put together could not even last two days. No team can win a Test after such a pathetic display.

Let me also say that I am no fan of the idea of opening the batting with Rahul Dravid. Rahul has probably been our best batsman on foreign soil and it makes no sense to waste him in the opening slot in the Tests. Sourav might keep saying that Rahul had volunteered to open the innings but from what I have seen the latter seems most uncomfortable at the top of the order. In my opinion, Rahul would rather make a great No 5, a position he adorned so splendidly at Eden Gardens against Australia. It would, for instance, be a much better idea to open with an ultra-aggressive Sourav than with Rahul.

Srinath and Prasad
AFP
As for the bowling, I felt that both the left-arm pacers were below par. It might have a lot to do with the fact that they lacked any match-practice. But it was here that the team management should have applied their collective mind and probably brought in someone like Venkatesh Prasad, who has toured South Africa previously. I only wish that the think- tank hopefully plays Prasad in the second Test. Fast bowlers, as they say, hunt in pairs and the Srinath-Prasad pair has been one of our finest. Also to be remembered is the fact that Prasad had done well in the previous tour of South Africa.

I would also like to see Harbhajan Singh recovering and returning for the next Test. His variety and skill makes him a bowler who can make things happen. He will definitely be helped by that the fact that the South Africans have found it almost impossible to read him. This means that he can always be trusted to flummox the home team batsmen and, if all goes well, possibly spin them to their doom.

The Indian team, collectively, then will have to put up a much better display in the next Test due to start at Port Elizabeth on November 16. The pitch there, according to accounts from South Africa, is also expected to be friendly to batsmen and slower bowlers. The Indians so will have to use the period leading up to the Test to regroup and chalk a plan that will help them win the Test and level the series. For if they don't and South Africa do, it might definitely lead to yet another forgettable whitewash for the Indians in the series. And that certainly is something the Indians can do without.

© CricInfo

Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth


 

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