Indians begin a tour of South Africa in a couple of day’s time. The facts that the no 1 ranked team (Indian Team) are not the favourites for the series. I may be corrected on this but I think this is our first tour away from the sub continent after being crowned number one cricket team. I am not taking into account tour of Bangladesh. It tells you so many things. Indians haven’t played much in South Africa. Our top batsmen and bowlers don’t have much to say about their exploits in South Africa. The batsmen are scoring between 35 to 38 runs compared to mid 50s in their careers. The bowlers haven’t had much fun. It is one place where we haven’t done all that great.
There was a chance to prepare well, but then BCCI acted a bit naive(?). Indians go into the series without any first class match. I think ICC is the custodian and marketer of the game. It must serious look into how tours are scheduled and planned. It is responsible for the way game is playerd, develops and spread. The present Indian tour to South Africa sets a very BAD example. But then ICC is as meek as Indian cricket fans. I wonder why there isn’t something seriously done about it. A decent tour match could be so vital in setting the right tone.
Bowling and batting are the only two weak links.
There seems to be just two weak links, batting and bowling. The fielding hasn’t been our forte so not write much on that front. While bowling rests on Zaheer who’s fitness isn’t being 100% if we are to “believe” the latest reports. Sreesanth bowled a magical spell and SAfs were gasping for breath. It was so rare that not many performances by Indian bowlers on foreign pitches can come to reckoning. I am still wondering if we have the bowlers to take 20 wickets in the match. Srinath and Prasad did their couple of bowling performances but not to be but it was in the past.
I don’t think we have a good and a settled combination of bowlers sent there I am not sure of this time either. I was wondering if Irfan Pathan (yes, Irfan ) could be added in the mix. He is been in wilderness for some time. His presence would provide an interesting combination. My line up would be – Sehwag, Gambhir,Laxman, Tendulkar, Dravid, Dhoni, Raina,Irfan, Zaheer, Ishant, and Ojha. Is it just three and a half bowlers there or keep Irfan, drop Raina for a bowler?
Sehwag has to blast and negate Steyn and Morkel. Gambhir is playing there for the first time. Laxman has to come ahead at one down to keep the scoring going, although Dravid is scoring runs but looks a touch out of rhythm and may not be able to take the momentum ahead. Tendulkar is in prime form but it is some place he hasn’t done his best. He will score. Dhoni as a batsman hasn’t been going great guns, his lack of runs doesn’t catch the eyes in the background of good (not great) performances. Zaheer kept Smith in check for most of the tour, but Smith had hit back smashing a century to win the series. Bhajji has played just one match there, I don’t know if he would make it to the playing XI. Raina (if playing) and Sehwag would make up for Bhajji. They could together bowler 15 to 18 overs (together) and would be luck to get couple of wickets (maximum). Ojha will have to keep it tight, Ishants testing Test match waters again, so remains a bit uncertain. The whole team seems to be tredging this uncertain line, there is more hope than belief that the team would do well.
It is probably last tour for the Big three, at least together.
The trick is to start with conservative strategy of playing a least 100 to 120 overs, see the new ball out, make a foundation for a decent score. The bowlers should look to bowl to conservative lengths and lines but attacking fields. The fielding has to be as good as SAfs if not better.
SAfs have lot to prove as well.
SAfs would be busy setting traps but they do have to consider Indian bowling as a possible threat or else it may spiral downwards for them. I hope Smith is injury free and fit to play. Amla and DeVilliers are in very good form, Kallis is genuine class. Boucher has always been a tough nut to crack. Steyn will lead the charge. He is an awesome bowler, mean and menacing and a big threat to Indian batting line up.
If the series would be drawn 1-1 I would be really happy. SAfs will go all guns blazing in their own backyard, Indians have a lot to prove. This is top of the line clash so hoping for very gruelling and a tough series.