The ‘mauka mauka’ ad by the official broadcasters in the build up to India’s second match, against South Africa at the iconic MCG on Sunday, is a dig at the Men in Blue’s dubious ‘clean sheet’ against the Proteas in World Cups.
South Africa have never won the World Cup. But India have never beaten South Africa in the three times they have met in the tournament. So, while AB de Villiers is eyeing a 4-0 next, Indian fans have quietly shown the South Africans that they are two-time champions.
Like methodical, studious students, India have once again decided not to train as the exam approaches while South Africa were slogging it out at the MCG on Thursday. After landing in Melbourne on Monday, India have trained only once.
Last Sunday, Virat Kohli became the first centurion against Pakistan in their six meetings in the World Cup. In the Test series here, he’s had a century and now that the role of holding the innings together has been assigned to him, he will hopefully have time to settle down.
South Africa have already taken note of it. And just like the Australians tried to get under the skin of Kohli, the South Africans are also planning to make him the target.
“We obviously know that Virat has been an outstanding player for India over the last couple of years and his record is phenomenal. He is obviously a kingpin in their batting line-up,” South Africa coach Russell Domingo said.
“But we were just talking at dinner last night about how guys like Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane have been in great form this summer. They have got a seriously good batting line-up. I don’t think the South African style is to target any one individual player, it is not the way we go about our stuff. It’s pretty much respecting them as a collective unit because you know that they have got match-winners right through their batting line-up,” Domingo added.
The talking point ahead of South Africa’s Thursday afternoon training session was whether Dale Steyn was fit.
He was and bowled full steam at the nets albeit to left-handed Rilee Rossouw, who is unlikely to be part of the playing eleven on Sunday, for the better part of his stint. In between, he kept hydrating himself and constantly had a word of advice or two for the net bowlers bowling alongside him.
“He has had a little bit of sinusitis, nothing too serious or too much to be concerned about. The rooms in Christchurch were especially cold with a lot of air going in. I am sure a lot of you guys had some sniffs and stuff. Nothing there to be too concerned about,” Domingo said.
With the Melbourne wicket promising some bounce, Domingo said Vernon Philander looks to be the likely spearhead.
“Vernon thrives on wickets that offer a little bit. Hopefully there will be something in the wicket for him because he is a hell of a good bowler if he gets some purchase.”