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What should India's approach be for the South Africa tour?

Attack - 116
Defense - 109

Poll Results Archive

What should India's approach be for the South Africa tour?
- The Appeal

The Offside

It is not for no reason that the adage 'Offense is the best form of defence' is universally acceptable from time immemorial. In any sport, a team looking to draw even rather than win has suffered. For this very reason, India must go on the offensive from the moment they land in South Africa.

News has just come in to the effect that India's top guns, injured for the tour of Sri Lanka will be fit in time for the 'African safari.' With Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble being fit, India can afford to take the Proteas head on.

Tendulkar and Laxman by nature are extremely aggressive batsmen. The fact that the two are bottom-handed players almost implies that they will not be successful unless they go on the offensive. Who can forget the recently concluded series against Australia where a fairytale triumph-from-behind was made possible because of a bold approach?

The conditions and opposition in South Africa will pose plenty of challenges. The hard, bouncy tracks will give the home team's fast bowlers an edge that is almost impossible to blunt with dour defence. After all, all it takes is one sharp bouncer to dislodge a batsman. And you can be sure there will be plenty of short stuff flying around. A hook shot or two and the fast bowlers will hold back a touch.

With the ball in hand, there can be no defensive tactics. Twenty wickets need to be taken if a Test is to be won and no restrictive line and length will achieve that end. India must be accurate with seam and threatening with spin, playing to their strengths.

Overall, the approach has to be an aggressive one, best symbolised by Ganguly's manner of captaincy. Taking the bull by its horns, the Indian team should take the attack to the enemy camp and claim the element of surprise if they are to return from South Africa with head held high.

The Onside

When you boast a batting line-up like the one Australia has at its disposal or a battery of fast bowlers, then you can afford to talk about attacking the opposition. India unfortunately have no such luxury. With the resources at hand, a wise man would be cautious in defence and wait for the opposition to make the mistakes.

The point is well made that the Indian team will be bolstered by the return of several injured cricketers. There is however a flip side to the argument. Kumble is returning to international cricket after an extended break. The others too will be playing on fast bouncy wickets after a lengthy gap. It is foolish to expect them to be able to get into stride right from the first ball. For all you know, this could cause a recurrence of injuries.

What India must do in South Africa is slow down the pace of the game considerably. This is sure to upset the home team's strategy. Having accomplished this, the Indians can then rally around their solid players, building a foundation. Shiv Sunder Das and Rahul Dravid could play a key role. The pair have displayed an ability to keep out the best of bowling and this must be encouraged. If India can use their services to the fullest, there is some chance that the other more flamboyant batsmen might be able to ply their wares.

In the bowling department, Anil Kumble could play a crucial role. Settling in slowly, Kumble could choke the flow of runs and suffocate the Proteas for space. In doing so, there is every likelihood that the South Africans would attempt to do something out of the ordinary and perish in the process.

In short, the Indians must play defensively. This way at least the damage could be limited to the least extent possible, giving hope for a moment of inspiration that would tilt the balance in India's favour.

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