India will need to get its act together when they face South Africa in the third and final cricket Test starting on Tuesday. The Indian team, after rising to glorious heights in Johannesburg with a historic 123-run win in the first Test, plummeted to a despairing low when it surrendered to the envied pace attack of the hosts in Durban Saturday.
With the series levelled 1-1, the Indians will face an uphill at the Newlands stadium. It will need more than 100 percent from Rahul Dravid and co to handle the fiery pace attack of South Africa.
The Indian top order has failed miserably. Especially the openers have failed to give a good start, putting a lot of pressure on the middle order.
The think tank, led by chairman of national selectors Dillip Vengsarkar, has to decide whether they want to continue with the duo of Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer or replace one of them with Gautam Gambhir.
Chances are that Sehwag, who is going through a bad patch, may be dropped ahead of Jaffer. Still, changing the opening pair will not solve the problem for India as senior batsmen like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have to show more courage and deliver amid all odds.
Dravid, scoring 32 in the first innings in the first Test, has failed to contribute significantly. It is time for him to stand up and lead from the front in the decider.
It is no rosy picture for Tendulkar. He has had good start in the series but has failed to capitalise on it and has thrown away his wicket in the crucial times.
After an impressive performance in the first Test, Ganguly has done nothing significant. It will need another impressive knock from the former captain to end his comeback series on a high note.
Laxman has been the only successful batsman with two half centuries but did not have apt support from the other end. The lower order has batted well and it is the bowlers who have shown how to bat on a fast track.
The bowlers have performed well and it will need another sterling effort from them to help India pocket the series and make amends for the 0-4 drubbing in the one day series.
Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and Vikram Raj Vir Singh have troubled the South African batsman. But the return to form by some of them like Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs will obviously be a matter of concern for Dravid.
After the convincing win in Durban, South Africa is high on spirit and will be looking to go for the kill in the third Test. For India, there is an opportunity to make history by becoming the first Indian team to win a Test series on South African soil.
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), V.V.S. Laxman (vice-captain), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Vikram Raj Vir Singh
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), A.B. de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wicket-keeper), Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris and Andrew Hall