If India have to win, their two main bowlers, Zaheer and Harbhajan, have to attack, take wickets and make the
Having said that, there’s really no point in criticising the players for the Nagpur loss. These things happen. It’s been a tough start, they were outplayed —there’s no question of that, but you just have to regroup and come back harder. This team can do that.
Again, the toss is going to be crucial. Kolkata wickets generally play slower. Reports indicate there’s some grass and that means there’s going to be a bit of seam movement but, essentially, a clay surface gets slower as the game goes on. The outfield is brilliant and batsmen will get good value for their shots. So where do India go from here? For me, Kallis is the key. In addition, India have to build on whatever start they get, in Nagpur, the advantage went after the early breakthroughs when Amla and Kallis settled in. The mental aspect is also essential. The spinners have to believe they can take wickets.
You have got to be aggressive, got to have attacking fields. If, the situation requires defensive fields, the spinners still have to be on the attack in their minds, look to get wickets, support each other. They also have to try and bowl in tandem, where one can go on the attack and the other can be restrictive, that’s why supporting each other is critical.
South Africa tend to play a waiting game against spin, so you need to encourage them to attack, get them to play at you and make mistakes. India have to make use of their strengths, look at how SA use theirs. Their four main bowlers are quality but always bowl as a unit, with one playing the restrictive role, like Harris did in Nagpur.
When Gambhir fell early and with Yuvraj not there, India had no left-handers in the middle so he could afford to bowl the line he did. It worked very well.
Steyn, at the other end, is an out and out attacking bowler — his job is to take wickets, but then, they also have someone like Kallis as the fifth bowler, someone who can still bowl 135-140 kmph and trouble the batsmen.
And that’s what India have to do to, across the board. Laxman’s return will balance the inexperience in the batting, but they have to plan for an upbeat South Africa throwing everything they can at them.
In Nagpur, they went into a shell but to have had success in the last 18 months, India have played attacking cricket and have kept the opposition under pressure.
That’s what took them to the top and only that will keep them there.