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Thursday, January 13, 2011

SA ODIs - India are 0-1 down

India lost the first ODI against South Africa in Durban last evening. Lost is probably a mild word - they were thumped by the hosts by a margin of 135 runs. MS Dhoni thought that the target was gettable if the visitors had not lost early wickets. But, let us be fair to ourselves - didnt we not expect the pitch to help the bowlers under lights? South African pitches, like the ones in Sri Lanka, tend to support the bowlers in the second innings of the day-night matches. More reason for MS Dhoni to win the toss - after he won one in the final test match, he reverted back to his old habits of losing the toss.

Hashim Amla seemed to be in top gear - I am sure all of you will agree that there is a bit of VVS in Amla's batting. His stroke-making is silken and it was clear that he had made the necessary changes to his game to excel in ODIs also. Laxman himself had done similar alterations to his game when he was scoring all those ODI centuries against Australia. But, India managed to grab wickets early and reduced the scoring rate by a fraction. JP Duminy and AB DeViliers are clearly the future of South African cricket - they gave a joint performance on how to recover the situation by clever running and rotation of the strikes. Another aspect that was refreshing was the clear thinking, especially with respect to the Batting Power-Play. This is one area where teams have seldom been succcessful in ODIs. By taking it when the two batsmen at crease were settled and run-rate had started picking up again, the South Africans reaped high dividends. 45 runs in 5 overs helped to a great extent and in hindsight, made up for the latter overs.

The Indians came back by the display of their part-time bowlers who were brought on more out of desperation. The Indians would do well to drop Nehra or Patel for the next match and bring on Ashwin. This decision will help in not only putting the brakes on the Proteas but also figure out how the two off-spinners (with different qualities) will play together. The WC2011 will be played on Indian pitches and it is important that Bhajji strikes up a good partnership with Ashwin quickly. On the other hand, South Africa by their display showed how they can be choked by spin - a worrying aspect before the WC starts.

The batting resembled the test team in the first test match - found out against two quality fast bowlers and two adept backup seamers. Murali Vijay tries to change his batting style in ODIs and his over-aggression acts against him mostly - he must learn to be patient in the first few overs, see off the new ball and then take calculated risks. The Legend who was returning back to ODIs after a long time had a rare failure, which meant that the youngsters were exposed to the new ball. One positive spin that I will try to put here is that it is good for youngsters like Kohli, Raina, Rohit Sharma and even Dhoni to face this bowling under difficult conditions - this experience will definitely pay off in the long run for the young batsmen.

Kohli repeated his act of scoring high in chasing situations while Raina tried to hit his way out. Even though the Indians had seven batsmen, the run-rate proved too high to scale. The Indians were able to make good use of Botha's overs but that was not enough. Going forward, the Indian team should try to reshuffle the batting so that the experienced batsmen come higher up the order. Dhoni, for example, should come at No.4 and try to keep one end going. Similarly, Yuvraj and Raina should go down the order and come in at a situation when runs are needed - 6 and 7 being the right places. Maybe, the next match. the Indians will try making Kohli open the batting so that Yusuf Pathan can be brought in.

Not a good start by the Indians last evening - will they equalize in the Bull Ring on Saturday?

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