March 13, 2000

Complacency should not creep in

Ever since the brutal onslaught of Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge in the early eighties, the Keenan Stadium at Jamshedpur has never been a happy hunting ground for the Indians. A victory proved to be elusive for the home team on several occasions. It was with this thought niggling at the back of their minds that the Indians went into the second one day international against the South Africans on Sunday.

Except for the toss, nothing went right for the Springboks at the Keenan Stadium. Kirsten and Gibbs, the century makers in the first one-dayer, were victims of their over confidence, as they wanted to carry on in the same fashion as they did in Kochi. Agarkar and Kumaran were able to obtain some movement early on and the former provided early breakthroughs for the Indians.

The introduction of spin pushed the South Africans further back in terms of run rate. Cronje held the innings together and it was Boje who provided some semblance of support for his skipper. Cronje who was controlling the innings well until the 40th over suddenly decided to take a gamble. He went for the big shot against Joshi in the hope that a few quick runs will make things very difficult for the Indians. Unfortunately he only managed to hole out to long on and the South African innings just crumbled after his dismissal.

The Indian bowling was far more disciplined and purposeful with Joshi ending up as the leading wicket taker. Ganguly is utilising his resources in the best manner possible and at the moment he is on a roll both as a leader and a batsman. The Indian chase on the face of it looked easy but one thing about chasing is that the runs have to be put up on the board. Ganguly, realising that the wicket was not conducive for strokeplay, went about his batting in a methodical manner. Tendulkar, whose basic instinct is to dominate the bowlers, perished to a loose shot which also meant that Ganguly had to take control of the run chase.

Joshi's promotion up the order did not click and Dravid kept Ganguly company and their partnership ensured that the hosts had no hiccups on the way to victory. Dravid's shot, which led to his dismissal, is an indication of a man who is fighting himself rather than circumstances. The spinners Boje and Strydom were carted over the fence at will in a majestic fashion by Ganguly. Azharuddin played in his usual wristy manner before he was castled by Cronje. This started the debate of Cronje not bringing himself to bowl earlier on. It would have not made much of a difference, as the South Africans were definitely short by about 30 runs. They batted under the best possible conditions and failed to put up a good score.

All in all, it was a convincing victory for the hosts fashioned by an all round performance in the sense that they excelled in all the departments of the game. Ganguly and Joshi may well be the stars, figures wise, but the contributions of others cannot be ignored. It is really good to see the Indians perform as well as they can but they have to ensure that complacency does not creep in at this juncture.