Dale Steyn speaks with a swagger nowadays. Makes sense, since he and his mates are dictating terms to the Indians. He makes no effort to hide it and says, “Raina, Ashwin, Yuvraj, they didn’t really look like they wanted to get in line. I think our intensity the other night blew them away.”
It is fear he is hinting at and while he was able to instill it in the first game, he promises there is more to come on Sunday when the two sides square up for the second ODI, and in the rest of the series. Not good news for the Indians, who already have a worry what with Shikhar Dhawan hurting his elbow in the nets during throw-downs.
In contrast to Steyn’s confidence, the usually chirpy Virat Kohli looked a bit sombre, the soft eyes perhaps reflecting the mood in the India camp. He was however brave enough to counter Steyn’s claim that the Indians were scared. “I stepped out against him on the fourth ball I faced,” he said in defence. “Regardless of the loss the other day, you didn’t see anyone sort of closing their eyes or swinging their bats around.”
To be fair, Virat and Shikhar showed the guts to take the bowlers on and Rohit Sharma showed the courage to stay there. But the efforts yielded little. Such has been the intensity of the South Africans. It seems they have a point to prove and although Steyn dismissed any talk of board politics spilling out on the field, the Proteas look like they want to avenge the humiliation.
No practice games
While the BCCI was firm on shortening the tour and looking at settling scores with Cricket South Africa, they failed to look at the players’ needs.
Virat explained the dilemma but said they have to adhere to the schedule. “The unfortunate part is that we didn’t get that many practice sessions or games and our schedule has been that. We have to play and get to know the conditions.”
India’s bowling has been a worry and MS Dhoni didn’t hide it either, saying that they did not have a bowler who can bowl express pace. Steyn too felt that way, “I think India need guys who can spin the ball a mile or can bowl quickly. They didn’t have that the other day.”
Well, India will have to dig deep into their resources.
Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are two names that’ll definitely be discussed in the team meeting.
Ishant, who had a poor outing in the ODIs in India and was dropped against the West Indies, was praised by Steyn, and his height may help him to get some purchase from these tracks.
Umesh has express pace although his showing in domestic cricket hasn’t been inspirational.
What makes it worse is that South Africa have never lost an ODI to India at Kingsmead. Dhoni had said ahead of the series that the team under his captaincy had done well in ODIs in South Africa the last time and there were players with experience of South Africa — in internationals, IPL and Champions League Twenty20. But all that seems to be coming to nought.
As Steyn put it out, “It is not Mumbai where the ball doesn’t get higher than the stumps. I didn’t see many of our guys walking off the field with bloody fingers or ice packs on the ribs so it was definitely a wake-up call for the Indians.”
Just hope the Indians wake up sooner than later.