ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, Nagpur

SA's batsmen and India's bowlers under scrutiny

The Preview by Sriram Veera

March 11, 2011

Comments: 129 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla prepare to bowl at the nets, Bangalore, February 25, 2011
Will two of these three play or only one? © AFP
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Match Facts

March 12, Nagpur
Start time 2.30pm (0900 GMT)

The Big Picture

India haven't lost a game yet but haven't escaped the darts from the critics. Why hasn't Harbhajan Singh taken wickets? Why Piyush Chawla? Why not R Ashwin? Why are the batsmen fumbling? Why do the fielders always fumble? Why is Zaheer Khan finding no support from other seamers? Why do they never bowl yorkers?

South Africa have lost one game but that loss threw up the same old question. Why do they choke? The two pre-tournament favourites face each other on a batting track where conventional wisdom would dictate that the team with better bowling and fielding should prevail. However, on their day, both teams are inherently strong enough to beat any logic.

Both teams have kept the team-sheet under wraps. Perhaps they really haven't yet decided. The news from the South African camp offers hints but there is nothing conclusive. Imran Tahir is a doubtful starter but he is not ruled out. AB de Villiers' back is better but it's not sure whether he will keep. If he keeps, Morne van Wyk might lose his spot and they may toy with bringing Lonwabo Tsotsobe in. Johan Botha might replace Tahir. And so it goes on. The logic is easy to understand: It's a batting pitch, so why not push AB to keep and play an extra bowler? If they hadn't choked against England, that decision would have been far easier to make.

India have their own puzzles to solve. MS Dhoni talked about going in with three seamers but he also said Ashwin might play. Barring Zaheer, India's seamers haven't really eased their captain's headaches. Sreesanth was poor in the first game, Munaf Patel has looked fine but there is no guarantee that he won't bleed runs if the batsmen take to him, and Ashish Nehra is yet to regain full fitness. Nehra was Dhoni's go-to man under pressure but suddenly, in the middle of a mundane home ODI series against New Zealand in November 2010, his form gave away and he is yet to recapture it. The Ashwin-Chawla debate has been analysed to death and it will be interesting to see what unfolds tomorrow.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa LWWWW

Watch out for...

Virender Sehwag has gone relatively quiet after the first game but he can be expected to fire on a big stage. He has been over-aggressive in a couple of games but against South Africa he is likely to return to his pre-tournament mood of trying to play as many overs as possible.

JP Duminy will be crucial for South Africa if they decide to go in with an extra bowler. In the recent few games, especially in the home series against India, he showed that he can shoulder the responsibility of leading the middle order. He might well be at the forefront when South Africa take their batting Powerplay and his battle against his nemesis Harbhajan could well be the key.

Team news

How the teams arrive at the final playing XI will give us an insight into their state of mind. Will South Africa attack with an extra bowler? Will India play an extra spinner?

India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (wk/capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ashish Nehra/Piyush Chawla/R Ashwin, 11 Munaf Patel

South Africa(possible): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Morne van Wyk/ Johan Botha, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pitch and conditions

As Graeme Smith said, they've been rolling it for four days. It will be hot and dry and dew is not expected to be a factor. Smith made it clear that the toss would have minimal effect.

Stats and trivia

  • Imran Tahir is the only South African bowler to take four or more wickets twice in a World Cup game

  • Sachin Tendulkar has been out lbw 38 times in ODIs. Only Sanath Jayasuriya (47), and Inzamam-ul-Haq (39) have been dismissed more times.


"I don't think this is the be all and end all of the World Cup. This part is about qualifying and then going into the knockouts with some confidence. I hope it is another really good game for the World Cup.."
Graeme Smith puts the game in perspective.

"If I have two bowlers who are giving 70 runs from 20 overs, I would be quite happy with them even if they don't take wickets because ultimately the pressure turns on the batsmen to score runs in today's format ... Harbhajan is doing his job and if the batsmen are not willing to take risks, he is stopping the run-scoring opportunities and breaking the momentum."
MS Dhoni backs his lead spinner.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 129 
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Posted by Tom on (March 14, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

why is sreeshanth not playing..? is he offered only one chance, because he was hit for 10 per over doesnt mean he is not a good bowler. he has good number of wickets palying against NZ, and he did good in the warm up match.. just because one game went bad doesnt mean putting him out is a good idea..if you look at the aggregate last last 5 matches, he has taken over over 10 wickets closely.. I doubt if Munaf or Nehra have done that. also he is an aggressive bowler. and R Ashwin bring him back to the squad. take out Nehra n Munaf as soon as possible. thank you.

Posted by Sandeep on (March 14, 2011, 4:49 GMT)

They should pick a bowling team which can take wickets. Only then you can restrict the opposition otherwise we have to score 350+ in every match which is not possible. I prefer that Dhoni goes with Zaheer, Sreesanth, Harbhajan and Ashwin as the frontline bowlers. Even though Sreesanth goes for runs he picks crucial wickets. This world cup will be won by a team which can pick wickets. Dhoni should not be stubborn and persist with Munaf, Nehra nd chawla who are ordinary performers with the ball and on the field as well.

Posted by Srinivasan on (March 13, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

India should have win this match...296 is not bad score at all ....even can control SA with that...Indians have tried lot but not up to the expected...from smith to botha, all the wickets were taken nicely but their overall effort are went in vain at the end... give chances to Raina and Ashwin in the coming matches......Come on India...you should play every game is like final match...then only you can win the world cup or else you forget the world cup..Good luck

Posted by Darsh on (March 12, 2011, 17:39 GMT)

Laters India!!!! Incredible loss! HaHa

Posted by Ajith on (March 12, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

I think india should rest Tendulkar, Sehwag, Harbhajan and Zaheer for this match. Instead, Ashwin, Sreeshanth , Munaf and Raina should be drafted in. This will give good oppurtunity to the reserve players against quality opposition and keep them in good stead in the knockout stages if their services are required due to injury to any player in the original eleven. The team shoul be - Gambhir,Kohli, Raina/ Dhoni, Yuvraj, Dhoni/ Raina, Y. Pathan, Ashwin, P.Chawla, A.Nehra, Sreeshanth, Munaf Patel.

This will upset all plans of S.Africa in this match and give a decent outing to all players as India has already qualified to the quarters. Also if this team loses we can still take heart from the fact that top four performers are resting. If we win with this team, it will spell fear in the remaining teams.


Posted by Dummy4 on (March 12, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

I think India will miss ojha throughout world cup.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 12, 2011, 8:20 GMT)

It is going to be really tough day for India. SA seamers are going to expose the vulnerability of Indian top order. Today will be a real test for Virat, Yusuf, Yuvaraj batting. Hope Ashwin plays instead of Piyush and bowl well so India has an outside chance . No indian spinner can bowl as good as Ashwin in Powerplays.

Posted by Rajeev on (March 12, 2011, 8:19 GMT)

Nagpur is the best venue for for South Africa to play against India in India, anywhere other than Mohali or Nagpur we can surely say that India has upper hand over them.

Posted by Srinivasa on (March 12, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

Should bring in Ashwin for Chawla, Raina for Kohli and Sreesanth for Harbajan or Nehra. We should play positively & should create a fear on the other teams

Posted by Nowshath on (March 12, 2011, 8:15 GMT)

Dhoni policy is to allow the player more matches who has not in the form and he is doing this for Chawla also. but that guy didnot utilise that. so please use ashwin hereafter instead of chawla as ashwin has variety performance like carrom, off, fast spin etc.,

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