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Monday, December 20, 2010

SA Series - South Africa go 1-0 up

CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16:  Sachin... After his exploits yesterday, all of India expected a much larger role to be played by Sachin Tendulkar today. But, very unlike him, the test match was completed in less than six overs played. Tendulkar added just 4 more runs while India reduced their deficit by 5 more.

Overall, the highest score in an innings defeat is a good sign for the Indian team in the next test match. The first-day would come back to haunt them - the damp pitch caught the batsmen napping and there was no way out for the Indians after that. The bowling was already depleted thanks to Zaheer's injury - they literally had no clue where to bowl to the Proteas. South Africa lost just 4 wickets in the match with 3 centurions and 2 half-centuries. The scene looks very similar to the Australians after the second test match of the current Ashes series. Will the Indians come back like the Oz did in Perth? It is possible if not likely.

The South African bowling is dependent on Steyn and Morkel to get the breakthroughs - their third seamer not able to make any impact while Harris was restrictive at the best. If the Indians can go through the initial overs of the pacers, they have a good chance of raising a big score. That is where Sehwag and Gambhir should take over from the 2nd innings of this test match and give a good start.

But, the major problem is with the bowling. The Indians dont know how to take 20 wickets now, especially when the wicket is not helping them. Zaheer Khan will come back mostly and take the place of Unadkat but Sreesanth and Ishant have to get their rhythm back as well. Another important aspect is the luck that MS Dhoni has with the toss - he himself acknowledged this fact after the match.

South Africa seems to be a well-oiled machine in all departments, especially the batting (and fielding). The bowling, as already mentioned, revolves around Steyn and Morkel which was good enough for the Indians in this test. In the previous series in India, South Africa defeated India by an innings thanks to Steyn's performance (Sachin scored a 2nd innings century then also). But, the Indians came back with an innings win on their own, thanks to a turning track - can they do it again this Boxing Day test match? Yes, provided they back their hopes and plans with proper execution.

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