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Sunday, January 16, 2011

SA ODIs - India level the series with luck

India equalized the ODI series with a show of determination and luck. Thanks to the Man-of-Match Munaf Patel  and the fielding efforts, the Indian team squeaked through the narrowest margin.

There were quite a few things that became more evident if they were not clear earlier

  • The absence of Kallis in the South African playing eleven creates a gaping hole as well as increases pressure on Greame Smith. Picture his reluctance to leave the crease when he was dismissed. It was as though he knew that South Africa will fall into disarray very soon.
  • The Batting Power-Play is still a mystery to all teams. Last night, the Indians were 14-4 whereas South Africa were marginally better (20-3). Most often than not, this plays into the bowling side when the batsmen try more than required to hit the big shots. One was again wondering why Greame Smith chose to take it when there were 19 overs and an asking rate of around 3 runs per over. Strange!
  • Pressure and South Africa will continue to be mentioned in the same sentence for some more time. They cannot shed the tag of chokers completely, it looks by their current performances. How else can you explain such a collapse of wickets, leading to the eventual loss. MSD was not complaining however.
  • The Indian part-time bowlers (Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina) are good enough, if not better, than most spinners of other teams. Together, they have bowled 26 overs in the 2 ODIs and taken four wickets for 125 runs. Botha, in comparison, has given away 81 runs in 17 overs while taking the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar last evening. This should give an idea to the team management for the upcoming World Cup. They should do well to emulate the Sri Lankans of 1996 by packing the squad with part-time bowlers to support Harbhajan Singh.
  • MS Dhoni has not lost his magic touch - he won the toss yesterday and the match eventually. But more than that, his field placements were on the dot. A slip was present forever when Harbhajan was bowling and he brought in Yusuf Pathan in the last over to the position where the next catch came.   
  • Sachin Tendulkar is supposed to travel back because of a hamstring scare. This will put more pressure on the Indian batting lineup but one feels that South Africa will still miss Kallis more than the Indians missing Tendulkar. Yusuf Pathan will come into the squad, moving Rohit Sharma higher the batting order.
The Indian team for World Cup will be selected on Monday, before the third ODI starts. How the selection will have an impact on the Indian team remains to be seen. MSD has suggested resting his pace bowlers - Zaheer Khan most likely. Sreesanth will make a return to the ODIs at his expense but how the Proteas make the mental adjustment remains to be seen.

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