India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 3rd day February 16, 2010

Huddle, huddle, toil and trouble

N Hunter

South Africa's scattered mindsets
Team huddles have become a ritual after India pioneered it famously during the 2003 World Cup. But the South Africans took these congregations to another level with three groups scattered around Eden Gardens, each one with its own group head. Kepler Wessels, the batting consultant, took care of the batsmen while Corrie van Zyl, the head coach, handled the bowlers. The rest of the coaching staff comprising Vincent Barnes (assistant coach), Jeremy Snape (psychologist) and Rob Walters (fitness trainer, who also helps with fielding drills) had their own meeting. Sadly, at the end of the day, all those meetings were rendered meaningless and only exposed their scattered mindsets.

Mishra's jabs hurt visitors
Time and again the South African fast bowlers tried to intimidate Amit Mishra with the short stuff. But the nightwatchman, who had scored a half-century in the first Test in Bangladesh, was not bothered as he stood calm and placed the balls with exquisite poise. His standout shots were the jabs over slips and gully which even made the bowlers re-think their strategy. Eventually, though, Mishra fell to another uppercut, it still came off the full face of the bat and he walked back proud, having survived the crucial first hour.

Reverse swept to cover
It was a noble thought. To counter Paul Harris' leg-theory, Dhoni tried to reverse sweep the left-arm spinner, but failed to connect properly as the ball travelled towards short cover. The Indian captain has already ripped apart the textbook with his unorthodox approach. Now he wants to change the geometry of shot making.