Friday, December 17, 2010


India has ended Day 1 on the First Test against South Africa at Centurion on 136 for 9. The damage that has already been inflicted on them cannot be undone now... but believe it or not, India can take some positives from the two short sessions bowled today.

There was the batting of Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh... with MS Dhoni still holding ground. But with a batting lineup such as the one India boasts of, these performances are bound to be there even in a low score. So these are not the positives that I was thinking of.

There is one major positive... South Africa's lack of attacking backup bowlers. Steyn and Morkel bowled wonderfully and complemented each other well. Whereas Morkel worked his batsmen out by using the old one-two of a bouncer followed by a fuller length ball, Steyn was content on concentrating on his fuller length and generate swing at high speeds of over 90 mph during the post tea session. Steyn used very little of the bouncers... there was one very good one that hit Gambhir on the shoulder.

These two brilliant new ball operators have taken 7 of the 9 Indian wickets to fall thus far... 3 for Steyn and 4 for Morkel. However, apart from these two, no one in the South African attack has looked threatening enough. The bowling figures of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Jacques Kallis and Paul Harris combined read 16 overs, 3 maidens, 1 wicket for 76 runs... i.e. 4.75 runs per over.

Though Kallis went at a decent 3.33 runs per over and also got 1 wicket of Raina, he was never threatening. He generated a decent pace, dug in a few short, but was well handled by most Indian batsmen. Tsotsobe was the reason today that India managed to cross the 100-run mark. All the 3 sixes of the Indian innings were hit of his bowling. And frankly, I was surprised that Graeme Smith persisted with him to give him 9 overs. Though Harris did not get a lot of chance, I am sure none of the Indian batsmen will be losing their sleep at the prospect of facing his bowling.

So even though the present situation of 136 - 9 is quite grave, India should know that there is still a lot left in the game. The weather may help India again as there are showers and thunderstorms expected on the 4th and 5th days. But apart from that, India will also know that if the initial burst of Steyn and Morkel can be seen through, the rest will not pose much of a threat and South Africa can then be attacked. Once there are a few runs on the board and the batsmen are settled in, even Steyn and Morkel will not be that very threatening in their further spells.

Even if Tsotsobe is replaced during the next Test by Ryan McLaren or Wayne Parnell, there is no reason to believe that they will be able to maintain the pressure exerted by their strike bowlers.

In such a scenario, it will be interesting to see how the Indian pacers perform. They are nowhere as good as Steyn and Morkel (especially in the absence of Zaheer Khan), but in helpful conditions, they can be a handful. If the Indian bowlers put up a large performance tomorrow, there may yet be a result in the match even if it rains over the last 2 days. Otherwise, we may go to Kingsmeade, Durban at 0 - 0.


Golandaaz said...

good observation. If we can see Steyn and Morkel through....tackling the rest would be easy

Unknown said...

Yes Gol! And the thing is that tackling Steyn and Morkel through their first burst also gives confidence to the batsman to take the attack to the other bowlers.

I think Sachin realised this immediately when he walked in as he took the attack to Lonwabo Tsotsobe. You wouldn't otherwise see him play those pull shots square of the wicket so early in his innings...

Anonymous said...

No blogs for a week now?