India vs South Africa: Bowlers leave Dhoni red-faced | india | Hindustan Times
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India vs South Africa: Bowlers leave Dhoni red-faced

While the batsmen's inability to play swing has dominated the headlines, the bowling hasn't been any inspirational. If anything, India bowlers could hardly make an impact on a wicket that was relished by the home bowlers.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2013 01:48 IST
Khurram Habib
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India-s-Mohit-Sharma-delivers-a-ball-to-South-Africa-s-Hashim-Amla-unseen-during-the-ODI-at-Wanderers-Stadium-in-Johannesburg-AFP-Photo

If the Wanderers has that idyllic look that can make you ecstatic, Kingsmead can unnerve, especially if you happen to be a visitor.

Curator Ognese Wilson flashes on his mobile a picture from three days back and you scarcely believe your eyes. The storm that day had waterlogged the stadium and as you walk, the soil softens with every step.

It is a heavy outfield and the ground, which saw Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in an over in the 2007 World T20, will need long sunshine to make it look like an ODI track liked by the Indians.

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"India should play Kwazulu Natal's club-level team," says Rajan, a former Natal player of Indian origin. The first-class cricketer makes it clear what he thinks of India's chances.

While the batsmen's inability to play swing has dominated the headlines, the bowling hasn't been any inspirational. If anything, India bowlers could hardly make an impact on a wicket that was relished by the home bowlers.

MS Dhoni was asked what was worse, batting or bowling, and he resorted to simple arithmetic to explain. "Our bowlers gave away 358 runs and batsmen made 220 or what (217)," he said trying to hide the embarrassment. "That way I think the bowlers were poor."

It was a mild way of putting that the bowling was abysmal.

Clueless
The Wanderers wicket looked bowling-friendly the second time around while in the first, this is when the Indians bowled, it seemed there was simply nothing there. The India bowlers failed to grab the initiative and worse, were clueless in the last 10 overs.

Quinton de Kock, a shy 20-year-old Johannesburg lad, confidently handled the bowlers as they struggled with the length. Asked after the game where India erred, he looked at AB de Villiers and said shyly, "I think they bowled a poor length. They bowled too short. If they had bowled a bit up, there could have been some edges."

De Villiers had said a bit earlier, "They bowled short in the first 5-10 overs and that gave us the boost." In fact, de Villiers and JP Duminy took a serious toll in the death overs and hammered over 100 runs in the last 10 overs.

Whether the Indians take anything from these comments remains to be seen.

The Kingsmead wicket is more likely to suit the Indians as it won't have the pace and bounce of Wanderers but it does have swing. Besides, Ashwin and other spinners may get a little more purchase from it.

But if it dries up, the bowlers may go for runs again. In 2013, India have lost six times after conceding over 300 runs and there have been a few other instances where such profligacy has been covered up by a brilliant show from the batsmen.