Bowling a worry for India against Proteas


THE REALITY CHECK – The Broader Perspective The Indians remain unbeaten in this tournament so far, but they have to admit that their performance has been far from convincing. Their only real test came against England, where they failed to defend a mammoth total of 338 and the game ended in a tie. In their wins against lowly Ireland and Netherlands, they weren’t as convincing as they would have liked. India have a solid batting line-up, but they have been inconsistent the whole time. The opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have got the starts, but they haven’t been able to convert them into big stands. But it is their bowling which is their biggest worry.
Seamers have failed with the new ball, while the spinners have been patchy and Harbhajan Singh – their main spin weapon has gone wicket-less for two consecutive games. How this fickle bowling attack fares against a line-up of more experienced batsmen like South Africa will be a major worry in this all-important game. The pitch is expected to be batsman-friendly, and the South African batsmen are in top form, which will further compound India’s bowling woes.
South Africa have looked strong in this tournament, apart from their slight blip against England where they lost a close game by six runs. They have a power-packed batting unit, with de Villiers and Amla in good form and all the experience of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith at hand. The Proteas will have to do without their highest wicket-taker of the tournament, Imran Tahir, who is out with a thumb injury. He is expected to be replaced by Johan Botha. However, it’s the South African seamers who pose a greater challenge to the Indian batsmen. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are one of the best in business.
A full house is expected at the newly built Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur, which means there will be extra pressure on the Indian side. South Africans will start as firm favorites, but if Indian batting comes good they can put pressure on Graeme Smith and his men. Form Guide & Conditions India have won 24 out of the 65 ODIs played between the two sides, with South Africa winning 39. However India have a better record at home, winning 13 and losing nine of total 22 ODIs played. India lost the recent ODI series 3-2 in South Africa, so the figures aren’t favouring them. The weather is expected to be clear for the day, and with a flat pitch in the offing, a high scoring encounter is on the cards. Dew can also play a big role, so the team winning the toss might opt to bowl first.
Watch Out For Yuvraj Singh is a pugnacious ODI batsman, who can give the ball a good thrashing. However, with seven wickets so far, it’s his bowling which is making headlines in this tournament. Today, he will be a challenge for Proteas with his all-round ability and proven track record. AB de Villiers has averaged 133 in this tournament, and having relinquished the wicket-keeping gloves, he is doing well with the bat. The elegant middle order batsman hits the ball nicely in gaps and is also an athletic fielder. He has a good chance of coming good against an out of form Indian bowling today.
Who Wins
India might have been unbeaten in the tournament so far, but this can change today against a top notch and in form South African side. Expect a high scoring game, which South Africa have a good chance of winning.
Likely Playing Elevens
India: Sehwag, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni (wk), Y Pathan, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Chawla/Ashwin, Nehra/Patel
South Africa: Amla, Smith, Kallis, de Villiers, Duminy, du Plessis, van Wyk (wk), Peterson, Botha, Steyn, M Morkel