Ideally, India would have liked to field the eleven tomorrow it would play in the first game of the World Cup on February 19. It would also love to carry a winning momentum into the mega event. The absence of Sehwag is a setback towards this ambition.
However, the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, can take care of a lot of leaks as we have known over the last two decades.
Tendulkar played just two one-dayers in 2010. One of them resulted in that mammoth innings of 200 against these same opponents. He now returns to the side at a venue where India scripted a Test history only last month. For all we know, he must have set himself a few targets in each game from now on.
Preparation has been a hallmark of Tendulkar all his career. It is a method which better becomes a routine for a few other members of the side. Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan in particular must know their acts from now on. It is a payback time from them to the selectors, captain and millions of fans of Indian cricket.
Team India today has options and selectors deserve a pat on the same. The batting should be good enough even without Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
The bowlers though still haven’t convinced everyone. The conditions and the track, I suspect, would be more in favour of batsmen and that’s the way to go for both teams just ahead of the sub-continental conditions of the world cup.
It’s no less a period of scrutiny for South Africa. They didn’t win the Cup when they were the best in the 90s. They couldn’t do it when it was hosted at home in 2003.
The South Africans have a brilliant array of batsman and bowlers and how dearly would they love to shrug the tag of “chokers” off their back.
It’s a day-night game and the tide of the nearby sea at times helps the bowlers late in the evening.
After all, who has forgotten the spell of Ashish Nehra at this very venue against England in the 2003 World Cup. So given the intensity between the two teams and the urge to win everything from now on, anyone who calls correctly should look to bat first at Kingsmead. TCM