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Steyn of loss, MSD blames bowlers

cricket Updated: Dec 21, 2010 02:17 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times
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Gary Kirsten shrugged his shoulders and blurted a "why", when asked if the team had celebrated on Sunday night. Apparently, Sachin Tendulkar's 50th hundred was little consolation for the coach.

To get the focus back on the larger picture, Kirsten had the entire squad back on the field, minutes after India had sunk to an innings and 25-run defeat in the fifth over of Monday. While the batsmen did some light exercises, the coach made the seamers go through the paces under the bright sun. That was on expected lines as the bowlers had put in a regrettable show, and have emerged as a major cause of concern ahead of the second Test in Durban.

Although the batsmen were a major letdown in the first innings, they redeemed themselves in the second innings by amassing 459 runs - the highest total by India in South Africa.

"Bowling is a cause of concern. The wicket, of course, had eased out a lot when our bowlers came on to bowl, but we have played on flatter tracks and still you are expected to take wickets. You can't win matches without taking 20 wickets," said skipper MS Dhoni.

What has come as a shot in the arm for the battered attack is the almost certain return of Zaheer Khan for the second Test. The left-arm pacer is indispensable as he not only spearheads the attack, but also assumes the role of a guide and planner. Even during practice after the match, he was seen giving inputs to other pacers while they were trying to hit line and length, something they failed to achieve in the game.

"The experience Zaheer brings in is vital. He always comes in with a plan and keeps changing it as and when required during the course of the game," said Dhoni.

Even as India's hopes of posting their first-ever series win have been dented, the visitors aren't pressing the panic button yet. The credible showing in the second innings, especially Tendulkar's century, has kept hope floating. "We just need to stick to our plans and basics. It's important to stay in a positive frame of mind, as that's what is going to win us the games," said the skipper.

Even as the batsmen's showing in the second innings is being seen as a positive, issues remain. The main worry is the form of Suresh Raina, who looked distinctly uncomfortable in both innings. Dhoni, too, admitted that he was "concerned to an extent" by the left-hander's form, before adding that he was inexperienced in these conditions. Raina looks set to make way for Cheteshwar Pujara in Durban.

Instead of heading straight to Durban, the team is going to Sun City for a two-day break. Hopefully, the outing will refresh them for Durban, which's going to be even more testing.