India Tour of South Africa 2013 – Review of 2nd ODI

It is said that a good cricketing team is able to learn from its mistakes pretty quickly and use it in their next encounters to improve its results. However, what does a team do when the opponent it is facing is on a completely different plane altogether? Are the lessons learnt of any use over there? The second ODI was a combination of both the factors. The Indian team, especially the batsmen, did not learn much from the hammering in the first match or, at least, were unable to reflect the same in their performance.


The South African team is on a different plane right now. They may have lost the preceding one day series against Pakistan at home but their class is evident from how well they have performed in the test matches and they sure are using the same factor to basically decimate India in the 2 matches so far. Plus, they have the advantage of playing at home. Before the series it was expected that the pitches would be green and hard and from the looks of it South African curators have left no stone unturned to make life as uncomfortable for the Indians as possible. However, that does not take away from the way the Indians have performed and here’s how:


Batting: The Indian batsmen seem to have taken their dominance at dead pitches in the Indian subcontinent a little too seriously and are not willing to tough it out. It is always okay to play the natural game that has got you to the top but it is the trait of champions to be able to adjust to different conditions and perform accordingly. 280 in India would be a meager total but on a spicy pitch such as Durban and with the fielding of South Africa this is equivalent to at least 50 runs more. So these factors perhaps have to be kept in mind. What is more surprising is that there has not been much effort on part of the batsmen to spend some time at the wicket. In an effort to stake their dominance they played way too many shots and Dhoni too highlighted this factor as one of the reason for the loss.


Bowling: The Indian bowlers performed comparatively better than the first match and were able to restrict the opposition to less than 300. However, the overall performance was not really at par with required standards. Umesh Yadav could not bowl his full quota and Ashwin was too short at times. Dhoni plays with 5 bowlers in one day matches because that is a combination he is comfortable with. However, if your opening bowler and main spinner are going for runs there is precious little you can do other than turning to part timers and that can be a risky proposition. In this match Raina did a decent job but that cannot be expected to happen each and every time.


Captaincy: Dhoni won the toss in the second match but strangely enough he inserted the opposition. The pitch, as he stated, was dry and he had plenty of spinners who could have come into their own in the second innings. To add to that, South Africa does not have a great record when it comes to chasing. It is true that India has a fantastic record, of late, while batting second but it has not done too badly while setting totals. Also, in these conditions the young batsmen would be able to perform better without the pressure of chasing down an imposing total. It is strange that Dhoni was unable to remember these things. Regarding the team composition Dhoni needs to acknowledge his ploy of two spinners shall not work over here and it would be better to have Bhuvneshwar play the final ODI instead of Jadeja. The third match will be played at Centurion where there will not be much assistance for the spinners. If Dhoni wants to gain some momentum before the test series by winning the third one day he should pick the best combination and for that he may have to be a bit more adaptable than he is willing to be.


One thing can be said with a certain degree of certainty – so far India has not been able to perform at a level that would suggest that it can mount a comeback in this series. However, it could be foolhardy to write off the team as yet considering the unpredictable nature of the gentleman’s game.