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Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
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Friday, December 20, 2013

SAF Test 1 - even day again

The Indian team after a satisfying day yesterday, started the first half-hour in a circumspect manner - the same way their openers played. So far, so good. But, without the runs showing on the board, the wickets started to fall when Philander started to pitch the ball in the right areas. Ashwin was flattered when he was given fields that were more suited for a Tendulkar or MS Dhoni. He could not rotate the strike efficiently and the one or two balls he left for the other tailenders were good enough to finish the innings.

The Indian bowlers started well but could not strike - luck was going the way of the batsmen when edges were falling short or they were missing the ball completely. Though the Indian fielding has lifted considerably after the newcomers, the catching has been awful. Simple catches were dropped - one of Smith and another of Faf Du Plessis - Ashwin and Rohit Sharma being the culprits. It will be good if more focus and preparation is done by the coaches on this aspect for you cannot afford to drop any catch in international cricket.

Zaheer, Shami and Ishant bowled well and picked wickets in the last session to start a collapse that broke the back of South African innings. For once, Ishant repeated his good performance from the previous match and showed that he can be consistent. Shami continued his good showing from the Windies tests but not much was known from his interactions with Zaheer. One aspect that gladdened the Indian fans was the fitness of the Indian pacers as well as the enthusiasm to hunt in pairs. For a long time, the Indian bowling had come together on overseas soil. Ashwin was a let-down but there was not much encouragement for him from the pitch - hopefully, the fourth innings will be different for him.

The Indian bowlers will have to wrap the tail and gain even a small lead to get psychological edge over their rivals. Once done, the batsmen will have to come out and repeat their first innings heroics once again - in fact, better it to set a target of 300 (not 275, as Rahane mentioned) for the last innings.

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