A Look At The South Africa Vs India Test Series




South Africa vs India Test Series

South Africa vs India Test Series

I must admit with all the build up to the Ashes. This series that starts in little over a week has often been overlooked. Though is very tantalizing indeed. It is the series to decide the number 1 team in Test cricket. Sadly for a series that promises to contain such high quality cricket, due to the constellation of stars in both the teams. The ICC being true to form, curiously only made it a three test series.

These are 3 factors for both sides that I see as key in the series:

South Africa:

The opening partner for Graeme Smith

There is no doubt the Smith is one of the best openers in the World, if not the best. Though as we saw against Pakistan in the two test series against a much weakened attack. His opening partner Alviro Petersen struggled. This suggested that he is short of test class. Which in this series where there is calls for and talk about bowling friendly pitches being prepared. He will have a huge target on his head for the Indian new ball bowling. If he fails the pressure will come on the excellent South African middle order – which could be a big factor in India having a chance in the series.

Ashwell Prince or J. P. Duminy

I must admit I have the highest respect for both players. Prince is a tough, ugly duckling batsman, whose sole purpose is to get the job done. Whereas Duminy is a naturally gifted player in regards to he can play a long responsible innings or he can delight with the best of them with his sublime stroke play. I tend to favour Duminy for this number 6 slot for though he has struggle of late. Anyone who saw him bat in Australia a few years ago were in no doubt of his sublime pedigree. He is younger than Prince too, so has a greater upside to him. Plus he is a very useful part time spinner

One for the purists – Lonwabo Tsotsobe

I’m a grumpy old gent, who gets very heated up with how the game is viewed now. The one comment I hear so often and get so aggravated by. Is when a prospective bowler is viewed for a test and is over looked because they aren’t deemed to be not quick enough? This to me is just ludicrous for the basis of pace bowling or any bowling for that matter is what you do with the ball. You can make Jeff Thomson look like snail’s pace, but if you don’t do anything with the ball. You won’t be successful in the long run.

In regards to this left arm medium fast bowler that was his criticism, that he wasn’t quick enough. Through with his swing and seam he was very successful in the first class game. If he can replicate this in a test match, he will be a very good acquisition to the fine South African team with the different dimension he brings to it.

I was very heartened those 7 days out from the first test that he has been preferred over Wayne Parnell. Who is like a Mitchell Johnson clone in regards to he is very quick, but did nothing with the ball

India:

The Indian Batting

This great Indian team is built around the strength of their batting with some of the greats of the game in it. Then arguably the greatest after Bradman is Sachin Tendulkar. So it seems bizarre having this as a key to this series for them. Though the facts don’t lie and all of the top 6 who have batted in tests against South Africa have struggled compared to their career accomplishments.

This is further emphasised by the fact that South Africa has the best fast bowler in the World in Dale Steyn. Also some other handy bowlers like Morne Morkel. If the Indian’s struggle with the willow they will have little chance of winning this series. To me there are two keys in the batting for India in this series.

In the opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, if they can see of the new ball and be as productive an opening pair as they have been. Then it allows the middle order to have a greater effect on the outcome of the matches. Also in regards to Sehwag, he just puts the fear of God into any bowling team and truly dismantles any game plan. If he can be the mauler he often is then India’s chances of being successful will be greatly enhanced.

M. S. Dhoni’s Captaincy

I must admit I love Dhoni as a player and as a man, but his Captaincy is at times to be polite-a little curious. In the 3 test series against a team in New Zealand, he was so ultra defensive. This was very puzzling by the fact that NZ are a very lowly team in the Test arena and India are arguably the number one team. So why not exert this perceived authority from ball one and crush any glimmer of belief that the Kiwi’s harboured? Instead Dhoni in particular through his fields, just let the Kiwi batsmen play with no pressure at all. These fields allowed NZ, who it must be said had one desire in mind in regards to not getting beaten badly. They not only avoided this in the first two tests, but even had a chance of an unlikely victory in the first.

In this series the Captaincy has to be decisive. It has to be measured in regards to having tactics that are dictated by the state of the game. Like if you have a new batsmen walk in, you can’t have sweepers on the fence and mid on and mid off back. Like in the middle overs of an ODI game. In this series if there is even a glimmer of hope. Dhoni has to be on the front foot and make any inch the South African’s give his team into a mile.

For this South African team holds all the cards in this series. As they are on their home pitches and have a very fine team. If Dhoni is lacking in his captaincy, the Proteas won’t be as kind as the Kiwi’s were.

Sreesanth and Ishant

There is no doubt at all that Zaheer Khan is a very fine and in my humble opinion underrated bowler. In South African conditions he will do very well indeed. Though cricket is a team game and thus he needs help.

Firstly in Sreesanth, when I first saw him against South Africa a few years ago – where he ran through a very fine batting line up. He showed great pace, swing and seam. Making me believe that he was the strike bowler that India have been craving for many a year.

BUT

After this, this young Kerala lad has been known for everything but his cricket. Most summarised by the term of him being a ‘Mental Midget’. This in a man’s game like test cricket is like the same as putting a snowball in the midday Chennai heat. It will melt quickly, turn to water then evaporate into oblivion.

Though in the just finished New Zealand series. Sreesanth showed a greater level of mental acumen. So there is no doubting the lads skill. He just needs to put away the booty dancing and school girl’s tears when Bhahji mans up to him and be the bowler India needs him to be.

Like Sreesanth, when Ishant Sharma first arrived on the Test scene. He was truly breath taking in regards to what people initially saw. I remember at a time when Ricky Ponting was dominating with the bat. Ishant made him look like a Chandigarh club cricketer. He just went from a bowler who had it all too basically being known for his no ball issues. Though again in the series in India against Australia, he showed he still has it in him to be a very fine test bowler.

If these two can stand up and support Zaheer, the Indian’s have a great chance in this mouth watering series.

Courtesy: http://atouchofirishintheglobalvillage.blogspot.com/

Tim Holt

Author:

Hi All, I’m an old gent having been born in 1953 in Derry, Nth Ireland. I learnt my love for cricket during my time in South Africa in between 1964-66. My hero as you can see by my profile picture is 'Chandra'! I am a qualified journalist having worked in Radio and papers across the Globe. Though I’m currently a teacher, who is on extended medical leave due to my heart not agreeing with the Irish past time of drinking copious amounts of Whisky! I have many tales to tell in regards to a lot of sports having played both Football and Cricket professionally. I hope you enjoy a few I share with you! Regards and Peace to All Tim

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