A lot was being said a few days back as to how the Indian team was going to get rolled over by the South African pace quartet. However, as it stands now, things have been different for both the teams as well as the audience. For starters South Africa has not been able to dominate India the way they did in the one dayers and India has, at least, been able to take the first few steps in asserting its will on the match. Following are certain mistakes that South Africa made on the first day of the match:
Choosing Imran Tahir: Tahir is, without a shadow of doubt, a very good and experienced leg spinner, but then again Indian batsmen can play bowlers better than him with more composure and confidence! South Africa had been able to rattle India in the preceding games with a never ending supply of pace and they should have chosen a pace bowler, preferably Wayne Parnell for his left arm angle and good pace as well as capability with the bat instead of the leggie. The problem with playing a spinner against India is that if the batsmen are set when they come on, they are not as effective. So, South Africa took a major risk in that regard and it was one that unfortunately did not come off.
Not giving Morne Morkel the new ball: Vernon Philander is an exceptional bowler but unfortunately his style of bowling is similar to Steyn, the premier quick bowler of South Africa, albeit a lot slower. Morkel, on the other hand, presents a different challenge to Indian batsmen who clearly do not enjoy the additional bounce and pace that he can generate on any wicket. He had also played a big part in the series victory against India in the one day leg of the tour. So Philander should have been preferred at first change instead of Morkel. It is okay to have set plans but then sometimes regimented thought processes can backfire as well. This has happened on several occasions for South Africa but surprisingly they are yet to show any change in that regard.
Here’s what they should be looking to do today:
- Be as attacking as possible – use Steyn and Morkel together and utilize Kallis and Philander together.
- Pack up the Indian batsmen by tea at the latest, otherwise they may have a tough time winning the test.
Here’s what India did right on the first day:
Tremendous batting by Virat Kohli: Many Indian fans are of the opinion that if any batsman in the present Indian team can succeed in South Africa it shall be Virat Kohli. An expert like Sunil Gavaskar has anointed him as the successor to the rich legacy left behind by a certain Sachin Tendulkar and it looks like he is ready to don the mantle. His innings was exceptional as is the case with him and his confidence could have a positive effect on the other colleagues especially the opening pair who seemed to suffer from a lack of confidence yesterday.
Steady batting by Pujara and Rahane: Both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have splendid records in first class cricket and are known to be people with calm heads. In fact, Pujara has been a major performer for India in the tests. Yesterday, when Kohli was going strong the Saurashtra batsman provided some much needed solidity at one end and would have scored a good innings himself if his innings was not cut short by the run out. Rahane has shown considerable temperate and nous to be unbeaten at the end of the first day’s play and looks good to get more runs. He also played an important role in helping Kohli get to his century.
Following should be the aim of the Indian team today:
- Bat the whole day if possible and preferably not lose any wicket till lunch.
- Both batsmen are good between the wickets. So they should be looking to score as many runs as possible.
- Dhoni should look to play the role of an aggressor as soon as he gets set. That could break the confidence of the South African pace bowlers.