Dew will be a major factor
A win would obviously be our aim, but all is not lost should we lose to South Africa at Motera, writes Tom Moody.india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 00:16 IST
It's a massive game for us on Tuesday, and I suppose people would expect us to make special preparations, but we're not doing things too differently. That is because our gameplan will be to focus on our strengths and think positively as usual. I feel one can get too caught up in the build-up to a high-pressure game, and that doesn't help.
South Africa are a dangerous side, and have been stationed near the top of the One-day International (ODI) rankings for quite a few years. They have some top-class One-day players. Besides, they have been free of injuries in this tournament, which makes them tougher opponents still. This is the first time we face them since the abortive tri-series in Sri Lanka in August, and some people have asked me whether there will be an edge to the contest given the fairly controversial situation under which South Africa pulled out of the series. My answer is no, because the series was washed out anyway, and so what happened then will have no bearing on Tuesday's game.
What will have a bearing, however, is the dew, which has been a factor right through the tournament. We had a run around the stadium on Sunday evening, and it appears as though at least 30 overs - if not more - of the second innings will be affected by dew, because we noticed that it starts to form around 7 pm. So though the pitch appears true and has traditionally held a lot of runs, I suppose the toss will yet again be of great importance.
I don't know whether it has to do with the venues or the timing of the matches, but in this tournament, it seems as though a team can gain an unfair advantage on the toss of a coin, which is the last thing players and spectators want. This is the kind of situation that makes picking the final eleven very tricky. Essentially, one has to find a side that will be equally comfortable with batting and bowling first or second, and that's a tough one.
We went into our last match with three quicks and two spinners, but for a side bowling second, the spin option needs to be carefully reviewed because it is much harder for spinners to turn the ball when it is skidding on to the bat. As a result, they become easier targets for batsmen. If you look at the Australian squad for the England game, they used five pacers and not a single spinner. So they went to the opposite extreme and it worked for them because they bowled second. However, as I say, we need to find a middle path that suits both situations.
Coming back to Tuesday's game, a win would obviously be our aim, but all is not lost should we lose, because all the teams in our group have won a match and lost one, so the situation is perfectly poised. We've gone through our games at a fair trot, so that it feels like we're playing all the matches. Our momentum has remained high, unlike teams such as Pakistan and India who will more or less have to restart their campaign in the next few days after the long lay-off. After Tuesday, we can take a bit of a break and watch all of that action unfold.