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South Africa have over all advantage

However, India have better records when it comes to play at home. Of the 15 matches Proteas played in India, they have lost nine times and won in six.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2005 20:56 IST

The fortunes of India and South Africa have swung on somewhat similar lines in the last one-year or so. They have had a disastrous 2004 when they came hurtling down the ranking ladder (ODIs) at breakneck speed. While South Africa sank to as low as eighth in the rankings, the Indians, too, were struggling in the same vicinity.

South Africa, however, witnessed a huge resurrection thereafter. They have subsequently climbed up the ladder as quickly as they went down. And they have come here as a team sitting pretty at Number Two position after thrashing New Zealand 4-0 in the just-concluded five-match ODI series.

India's woes, on the other hand, continued a bit longer. They were still groping in the dark until Sri Lanka came over. The seven-match ODI series saw an incredible turnaround in the Indian fortunes -- the desperate and confused bunch that they were just sometime back put up an amazing show to leave the Lankan tigers badly bruised and battered and propelled themselves into resurgent mode.

Incidentally, the Lankans were also ranked Number Two in ODIs before what has been a highly forgettable series for them.

So, confidence is one thing that should not be in short supply when India and South Africa begin the fight for supremacy in Hyderabad on November 16.

Though South Africa have the over all advantage winning 28 and losing just 16 in 46 matches that they have played, but India proved themselves superior when it came to playing at home. Of the 15 matches Proteas played in India, they have lost nine times and won in six.

In the last five-and-a-half years the two countries have, however, played each other just ten times. South Africa have won five matches and lost four (with one washout), but three of the victories have been at home. The last four matches have been in the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and the South Africans have won just once, and lost twice.

While South Africa would be looking to extend their dream run (they have won 16 out of their last 18 matches including 12 on the trot) and win their first ever ODI series in India, the hosts would strive to continue with the incredible purple patch they have struck.

That, however, is certainly not going to be easy. It's perhaps going to take much more effort to sustain the tempo than was needed to start it in the first place. India were in such a precarious position where any change could have been only for the better when Lanka came here.

So, the players did not have any pressure of expectation to carry and they went all out and played with gay abandon.

And this fearless approach worked like magic; all experiments and strategies yielded more than expected results; so much so that Lanka were left completely confounded and did not have any answer to Indian tactics.

India, this time around, would be under pressure to live up to the high standards they have set for themselves in the last series. And they should also be geared up to face a more prepared opponent in South Africa! Unlike Lanka, who were stunned by India's tactics and weapons like Dhoni, RP Singh et al, the latter would enter the duel knowing what to expect.

"We are aware that India is playing excellent cricket... but so are we. We have our strategies worked out to stop the India run machine and will be looking to become the first ever South African side to win a series here," said South Africa coach Mickey Arthur.

So, it would be interesting to see how the experiments and strategies that worked without a failure against Lanka works in the face of in-form and confident opponent.

More importantly, how the team reacts as and when some of these ploys fail! And if India again manage to conjure up the same magic or even come close to it, all doubts about Indian resurgence would vanish and the team could hopefully look towards WC 2007.

First Published: Nov 15, 2005 20:56 IST