India lose to RSA: A few lessons

India lost a tough game to South Africa; the first of the 3-match “Future Cup” Series. Despite having several players on the sick bed, India were able to field 11 semi-fit players. Talk was that R. P. Singh wasn’t quite there yet. Still, he played and so did a few of the others who caught the flu-bug. Unfortunately, the team balance was disrupted as a result of this; the team went in with two spinners — a luxury in cold conditions and on a seaming pitch! As a result, the first change bowler had to be Sourav Ganguly — and as part-timers tend to do, Ganguly leaked runs! Although the spinners did well to pull it back a bit, the good start that Andre Nel gave the South Africans on the field, the slow batting by the Indians in the middle-overs, the not-so-crash-hot batting finish by the Indians, Kallis’s well-paced innings and general sloppiness in the Indian bowling, combined to give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

M. S. Dhoni, team vice-captain sat out his second successive match as vice-captain of the team! Dhoni is, incidentally, the guy who has been generous in offering the bug that he initially caught to everyone else in the team! 🙂

I am assuming that Team India pops those cold-flu-pills and rugs up to recovery prior to Fridays’ second game. I am also assuming that there are a few lessons that the team will learn prior to Fridays’ game!

The slow batting initially was understandable. Despite this piece that attempts to dissect Sachin Tendulkar’s batting, I thought Tendulkar paced his innings well. The conditions were hard and batting was tough on a two-paced wicket. He built the innings steadily and got out — stunningly, for the first time in his career of 137 Tests and 385 ODIs — on 99 runs!

In the end analysis, India was about 20 runs short. The real problem lay in the finish. The solid rebuilding-foundation that Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar had built was all but destroyed by Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma.

Yuvraj Singh needs to re-think his role, place and approach in the team. If he really wants to be the mainstay of Team India for the future, he needs to add consistency to his middle name which currently reads “Class”. Yes, he is a classy player. But just that is not enough. He needs to make each innings of his count. A pretty 20 is just not good enough anymore. He needs to be the clinical finisher that Michael Bevan was for Australia. This view is argued compellingly in a well-written piece on Cricinfo by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan.

India made 50 runs in the last 8 overs with 8 wickets still in hand! This phase would have hurt India’s chances in the final analysis.

I really don’t know what Gautam Gambhir is doing in the one-day side in England. Yes, he has scored some runs lately. Yes, he has tried to make the best of all the opportunities he has been given. But he is not an ODI opener. He is not inventive with his shot making. He is suspect against the moving/seaming ball and doesn’t have the best timing in the world. I think India have to give Uthappa a go in the next match.

Piyush Chawla has impressed in every outing since his debut. He played well against Ireland. Minnow or no minnow, one has to still put in the hard yards. And he did. His confidence appears to be high and he is grabbing these flu-induced opportunities to cement a place in the side. Rediff carried a piece which indicates that Chawla is the third Indian bowler to have claimed 6 wickets after only his second ODI! After Chawla’s 3 wickets for 47 runs in yesterdays’ match against South Africa, maybe they’ll do another piece on the number of ODIs Indians have taken to reach 9 ODI wickets!

The main concern for me is the largesse that India affords opposition teams in terms of wides and no-balls. With the new ICC rule on free-hits that is going to be brought into play from 1 October on, this slide should be halted and arrested immediately. This should be one of Venkatesh Prasad’s main tasks, I’d have thought. In yesterdays’ match, R. P. Singh bowled 6 wides — and that is a luxury really!

Rohit Sharma hasn’t impressed in his first outing. Here’s hoping he does better in future matches.

With S. Sreesanth back in the team — for Romesh Powar, perhaps — and with a hope that Uthappa plays ahead of Gambhir, it would be good to see a full-strength India take on South Africa on Friday.

— Mohan

9 responses to “India lose to RSA: A few lessons

  1. Dhoni’s return will also boost India’s batting, in which case Rohit Sharma will have to sit out.

    We are talking –
    Ganguly, Uthappa, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni, Chawla, Agarkar, Sreesanth and Zaheer

    Atleast it looks better on paper!

  2. Good write up Mohan. Just the kind of positive mood we need to set in this website when the vultures are waiting out there to dismiss the Indian team quickly. I think we lost the plot in the final 10 overs. We also got lucky with the Boucher LBW. And we were definitely a seamer short on yesterday’s wicket.

  3. Good post, Mohan.

    Of late, India seem to be struggling quite a lot in the slog overs. I think the Indian camp must sit down and talk through what they need to do to correct this.

    An extra twenty runs in the slog overs and an additional seamer would have made all the difference….

    As I didn’t watch the game, could someone enlighten me as to why Sachin wasn’t given a bowl?

  4. I don’t agree Sachin paced his innings well at all. Here’s why… It’s a team game, Sachin.

  5. The match was lost from 35th over to the 50th over and lack of third seamer. Two spinners are not needed in this match at Ireland.

    It is a difficult situation to come in over 45 th over, and start hitting fours and sixes. First one has to get the feel for the bowler and pitch and then hit fours and sixes. In that sense, it is easier to open the innings a one-day match, so that you can get set and push up the score around the 20th over.

    Rohit Sharma is a batsman or a bowler ?

    India needs Michael Bevan or Andrew Symonds for slog.

  6. Mahesh,

    The temperature at Belfast was hovering from 7-12 degrees and it was extremely cold. The spinners who are full time bowlers like Powar and Chawla could barely manage gripping the ball. It’d have been almost impossible for Sachin to bowl anywhere near something called ‘accurate’.

    Thats the only reason why Dravid would have resisted the temptation of bowling Sachin. I thought saffies played Chawla badly and were not quite comfortable. Sachin, had he bowled, would have been handful!

  7. Sorry Sumit. I don’t agree with you. And I can gurantee that had Sachin not played that day, we could not have crossed 125 mark!!

  8. Chandan, I agree with Mahesh. Sachin could have been used — bowling his seam-up stuff.

  9. The match was lost in the 37-50 over phase of India batting and also when Dravid did not use Sachin in bowling. They somehow needed to dislodge Kallis and then things might have got folded but India acted as if that they are afraid to win

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