South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 2nd day December 27, 2010

SA's failure to adapt costs them dear

South Africa's failure to adapt their approach to the unexpected threat posed by India's bowlers led to their collapse in the first innings
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When South Africa took to the field for the second time in two days, there was something markedly different about them. For the first nine overs, they walked around like the zombies out of the Night of the Living Dead movie. They appeared shell-shocked, well and truly bewildered that on day two they found themselves bowling again.

Even though South Africa had been saying all the right things about expecting India to put up a fight, the knockout punch that the Indian attack dealt them came as a complete surprise. Although South Africa insisted that they respected India and understood the quality of their opposition, they didn't expect that quality to unleash itself in the way it did - through the Indian bowlers.

Graeme Smith, after the first Test in Centurion, stopped just short of saying that he thought India would not be able to take 20 wickets against South Africa. He was asked if he thought the Indian attack was capable of bowling South Africa out twice. This was his answer: "I'd love to say no, but no one wants to touch the money."

Everything about Smith's expression and body language as he spoke showed he didn't believe that India's bowlers could be much of a threat. Today, they didn't even have to take 20 wickets, it was the ten they skittled for 131 runs that shook South Africa's usually solid line-up to its core and exposed one of the team's biggest weaknesses: the inability to regroup once their plans have been bent out of shape by something that is not in their control.

Matters became tense when Smith dutifully put on his bunny ears and fell to Zaheer Khan and the anxiety levels rose when Alviro Petersen was dismissed. But it was when bad luck struck and Jacques Kallis was run out at the non-strikers end by Ishant Sharma that plans started disintegrating. Eight balls later de Villiers fell victim to a peach of a delivery from Sreesanth, a ball he could do nothing about, but it was a sign to South Africa to start taking the Indian threat more seriously.

They didn't seem to do that and when Harbhajan Singh came on to bowl, any strategy South Africa may have had rolled away from them like a Turkish carpet. South Africa targeted Singh successfully in the first Test. Smith even had a little dig at him in the post-match press conference. The South Africa captain was smug in his statement that Paul Harris had had more of an impact than Harbhajan, and performed better throughout the game. His statement may have been accurate, but the manner in which he delivered his observation suggested disdain for Harbhajan.

South Africa may have thought that the Turbanator would be ineffective on this tour but he proved them wrong in emphatic fashion. Hashim Amla, who is traditionally strong on the leg side, and had faced Harbhajan many times before, played the sweep shot to a delivery that held its line and went straight on. He was given out lbw and initially it looked as though he was unlucky but replays showed that the ball would have gone on to hit middle and leg stump.

Harbhajan's next two wickets came from outrageous catches. First, Rahul Dravid took his 200th catch with an impeccably timed dive to his left at slip to dismiss Dale Steyn and then Cheteshwar Pujara anticipated well at short leg to send Harris on his way. Harbhajan's wizardry had not been completely exhausted and he took a stunner of a catch himself on the fine-leg boundary to hand Ishant Sharma a wicket. It was those improbable chances that India latched onto that would have stunned South Africa, who were not expecting such a committed display from the visitors.

It may be easier for South Africa to blame it on their Durban jinx. Kingsmead has been a particularly problematic venue, where South Africa have been bowled out in the 130s in three consecutive seasons. In the 2009-10 edition, they were bundled out for 133 in the second innings against England to lose by an innings and 98 runs. Graeme Swann was the chief destroyer then, taking 5 for 54 in that innings and nine wickets in the match. The season before, South Africa were all out for 138 against Australia. Mitchell Johnson did the bulk of the damage as he quite literally punctured South Africa's plans by breaking Smith's hand and smacking Kallis on the jaw, sending them both to hospital in the space of 16 overs.

Durban is becoming the hoodoo venue for the hosts but they can't blame it for the tailspin they find themselves in after their clinical approach failed. In Kolkata earlier this year, South Africa went from 218 for 2 to 296 all out after an attack from Khan and Harbhajan. It's not just in Durban where the batting struggles to adjust when the need arises. What Kolkata tells us is that South Africa need to have a more dynamic approach so that they can improvise when things aren't going according to plan.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Caveman. on December 28, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    The way India is batting in their 2nd innings, SA's 1st innings failure will likely become irrelevant. With the wicket easing out, it will be easy enough to chase anything under 300. It is a bit unthinkable that the SA top order will play as carelessly as Sehwag, Sachin and even Dravid (2nd innings dismissal).

  • indianzen on December 28, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    I think you need more luck in SA. when luck favours, your bowlers wither Bowl too well like SA bowling in 1st Test or they bowl too bad like SA bowling in 2nd test. But without a worldclass bowler like Steyn/Morne if india could win, its a great acheivement...

  • The_Professor on December 28, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    CHOKING, CHOKING, CHOKING - SA seems to be choking AGAIN! India came into the match short of match practice and SA got on top early. Now that it coming to securing the series, seems like the famous SA CHOKE is back! India may well let it slip as they are still making up for a lack of warm up matches (thanks to BCCI)!

  • Alexk400 on December 28, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    It is not over yet. Still india can bowled out with lead of 200. Not good enough. tough to get SA below 200 twice. Unless Bhajji produces a miracle.

  • Saffalicious on December 28, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    @stormy, I think that you are right in saying that SA were somewhat complacent and that they largely fell to poor shot selection (with the very unlucky exception of Kallis who was looking VERY good). My money is in SA though as I think that Kallis will come good in the second innings and Amla will not fall cheaply again

  • ravi70 on December 28, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Where are the Indian Bashers now? Why did the South Arficans fold up like 9 pins, on a bouncy wicket. They are supposed to be bred on these wickets. Does now Smith agree that they cant play Bhajji for nuts. Arrogance cost Australia. Look where is Australia. Arrogance will bring down fall of South Africa. Confidence is good, to say Indians cant take 20 wickets, cant face chin music, etc., If Smith and Co cant bat 2 full sessions, they also dont deserve to win. Anyway why are the World Champs in Chockers cribbing

  • anver777 on December 28, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Don't underestimate the Indian bowling unit my dear friend Smith..........after the inclusion of their premier bowler Zaheer India got that energy back in the bowling attack............

  • stormy16 on December 28, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    I think disrespect for the opposition cost SA more but the Ind bowled beautifully and held on to their catches and lets not brush that aside. The porblem with being over confident is it catches up with you in the form of preasure if things dont go your way and this goes for both teams and I think that was a factor for SA yesterday and will be when they bat again. I cannot beleive the shots Sewag, Sachin and Dravid played at that stage of the game and series - it was totally irresponsible. Ind can still make this their game if they get anything over 250 which I think will be tought to chase. I fail to undestand how the experts say there is nothing in the picth when 24 wickets have falled in two days so anything over 250 will be a good score and Ind dont have much to do to get there.

  • LazloWoodbine on December 28, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    All credit to India for bowling and fielding superbly. This is what makes thi such a great game! Credit too to Zaheer, who must have felt the weight of expectation on him but delivered wonderfully. A bad day at the office for us SAns, but that happens in this game. I'm looking forwardto the today's play.

  • voiceguru on December 28, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    So now SA fans are saying that do not judge the SA performance by 1 innings :)))) .. and they criticism Indian batting and specially bawling based on 1 test :))) India looks bad when it comes to play on fast and bouncy pitch but its just it look. How they played for 205 it was good batting and awesome bawling performance. However we do respect SA team and i am sure they will fight back with bat so it will be a great contest... lets see how india bat today tilll lunch which will eventually define who will win this match .. for series if its draw india will prove that they can take on SA in SA quite good ..if they win there is nothing more to say to that .. but defiantly india wont loose the series ..

  • Caveman. on December 28, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    The way India is batting in their 2nd innings, SA's 1st innings failure will likely become irrelevant. With the wicket easing out, it will be easy enough to chase anything under 300. It is a bit unthinkable that the SA top order will play as carelessly as Sehwag, Sachin and even Dravid (2nd innings dismissal).

  • indianzen on December 28, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    I think you need more luck in SA. when luck favours, your bowlers wither Bowl too well like SA bowling in 1st Test or they bowl too bad like SA bowling in 2nd test. But without a worldclass bowler like Steyn/Morne if india could win, its a great acheivement...

  • The_Professor on December 28, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    CHOKING, CHOKING, CHOKING - SA seems to be choking AGAIN! India came into the match short of match practice and SA got on top early. Now that it coming to securing the series, seems like the famous SA CHOKE is back! India may well let it slip as they are still making up for a lack of warm up matches (thanks to BCCI)!

  • Alexk400 on December 28, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    It is not over yet. Still india can bowled out with lead of 200. Not good enough. tough to get SA below 200 twice. Unless Bhajji produces a miracle.

  • Saffalicious on December 28, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    @stormy, I think that you are right in saying that SA were somewhat complacent and that they largely fell to poor shot selection (with the very unlucky exception of Kallis who was looking VERY good). My money is in SA though as I think that Kallis will come good in the second innings and Amla will not fall cheaply again

  • ravi70 on December 28, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Where are the Indian Bashers now? Why did the South Arficans fold up like 9 pins, on a bouncy wicket. They are supposed to be bred on these wickets. Does now Smith agree that they cant play Bhajji for nuts. Arrogance cost Australia. Look where is Australia. Arrogance will bring down fall of South Africa. Confidence is good, to say Indians cant take 20 wickets, cant face chin music, etc., If Smith and Co cant bat 2 full sessions, they also dont deserve to win. Anyway why are the World Champs in Chockers cribbing

  • anver777 on December 28, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Don't underestimate the Indian bowling unit my dear friend Smith..........after the inclusion of their premier bowler Zaheer India got that energy back in the bowling attack............

  • stormy16 on December 28, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    I think disrespect for the opposition cost SA more but the Ind bowled beautifully and held on to their catches and lets not brush that aside. The porblem with being over confident is it catches up with you in the form of preasure if things dont go your way and this goes for both teams and I think that was a factor for SA yesterday and will be when they bat again. I cannot beleive the shots Sewag, Sachin and Dravid played at that stage of the game and series - it was totally irresponsible. Ind can still make this their game if they get anything over 250 which I think will be tought to chase. I fail to undestand how the experts say there is nothing in the picth when 24 wickets have falled in two days so anything over 250 will be a good score and Ind dont have much to do to get there.

  • LazloWoodbine on December 28, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    All credit to India for bowling and fielding superbly. This is what makes thi such a great game! Credit too to Zaheer, who must have felt the weight of expectation on him but delivered wonderfully. A bad day at the office for us SAns, but that happens in this game. I'm looking forwardto the today's play.

  • voiceguru on December 28, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    So now SA fans are saying that do not judge the SA performance by 1 innings :)))) .. and they criticism Indian batting and specially bawling based on 1 test :))) India looks bad when it comes to play on fast and bouncy pitch but its just it look. How they played for 205 it was good batting and awesome bawling performance. However we do respect SA team and i am sure they will fight back with bat so it will be a great contest... lets see how india bat today tilll lunch which will eventually define who will win this match .. for series if its draw india will prove that they can take on SA in SA quite good ..if they win there is nothing more to say to that .. but defiantly india wont loose the series ..

  • sanjeevmukherjee2006 on December 28, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    dont say india are flat track bullies we all saw how SA, Aus struggled this year and also how pakistan fared in Aus and England in seaming conditions. Australia were bundled for less than 100 runs may be 2 times this year and pakistan may be 2-3 times for less than 100, at least india has avoided that ignonimity. SA scored 131 at durban imagine if they had batted in the first innings in both tests under testing conditions they might have struggled to get past 100!

  • sanjeevmukherjee2006 on December 28, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    wow to all the people look at SA they cant face indian bowlers, where are all those who were criticizing indians, india has won series in england, nz, pakistan, Wi, won tests in australia, SA and Sl so dont talk that they are lucky blah blah. no team can face seam bowlers in seaming conditions we all saw how india,sa,england,aus, pak,SL struggle against pace, swing and bounce. india were unlucky that they batted first in this series. for WC india and pak are favorites

  • on December 28, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    More than India, SA have more chances to win the game, Indian batters have thrown it away by some reckless and senseless approach. No point in matching Sehwag. As we have seen earlier (thrice in the series), Indians dont play well in morning session and today being the make or break day, I see India faltering again in morning session. 2 wkts and all over for India. Pitch has eased out comprehensively and with Sun beating down, SA are more likely to have better batting conditions. The truth is that Miracles dont happen so frequently. Still hoping against hopes.........

  • Saffalicious on December 28, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    Please dont forget the weather. Batting will be easier today again, and much easier tomorrow. If India bat past lunch, this may be their undoing as tomorrow could be a runfest on this pitch given a sunny forecast for most of the day. this game is just too tricky to call because it could become a rout either way.

  • on December 28, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    Thats beauty of test cricket guys. One bad session and few loose moments and you can be made to eat your words. Sporting pitches create an even contest and makes things unpredictable and exciting. So Vote goes for more sporting pitches that do different things. There is nothing apparently wrong with the pitch except spongy bounce and that seem to trouble everyone.

  • Morpheus273 on December 28, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    AHEM AHEM...Why do I see such less number of SAffers joining the discussion? And the ones who are in the discussion have mellowed down their tones and the claims of blowing away the Indians away on the FAST AND BOUNCY SA pitches and gaining the TRUE #1 spot. Guys, Mc Grath felt the same pain when he forecasted a 3-0 whitewash in the 2000 and in 2008 at Perth, when Aussies themselves got blown away. Indians, for sure dont know how to bat in foreign conditions. They can't play bouncers and moving balls. They have the worst bowling attack in the world. They can't land the ball in the right areas and don't have the 140+ speed to blow away the opposition. With so many deficiencies they scored 205 in the first innings where SAffers playing on the second day, with eased out conditions, could only manage 131. Speaks volumes for the Indians. Unlike SAffers Indians have let their bat and bowl speak do the talking. Mr Smith, get ready for either a broken finger or a CART-WHEELING stump.

  • Alar on December 28, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    SnowSnake, tell me what is the fun in penning your opinion on an event after it is over ? The actual fun is to see people eating their own words, na ? Anyway, I wish I'm disappointed on this account this time around :)

  • on December 28, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Lets not count the chickens before they hatch!!!....Indian batting is susceptible to the pace and bounce, and dont expect SA to get out this cheaply every time

  • anoopshameed on December 28, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    It was on the card from the moment Smith opened his mouth. Only a foolish Captain would go after the Indian Team before sealing the series. When was the last time these mind games worked on the Indians-I for one don't remember none. Infact, I do remember many a times it has backfired and got the Indian Team going! All Smith had to do was wait until South Africa won the series and then shoot his big mouth off. But now it seems after Ponting and Sangakkara, it's Smith's turn to regret it all!

  • on December 28, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    hmm...and I thought Tendulkar is " the man" .....with Tendulkar gone , Zaheer and his party would hve to pull the rabbit out of the hat one more time to lose somehat honorably ....At the Centurian the little master could only make his 50th century...it was too much to expect from him after 21 year and 50 centuries to avoid an innings defeat.....hopefully Zaheer and his team cando better and hope, as the title of this article suggests ,that the SA continue on the path "... failure to adapt costs them dear..."

  • ahmedjawwad4u on December 28, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    I dont expect this comment to be published because this website is biased. Let' see. But I don know what has happened to indian fans, they have started talking arrogantly about other teams after 14 months of playing in indian conditions and enjoying number one ranking for almost the same amount of time. you wanna do man to man comparisons?, compare india with Engalnd? they have got better bowling lineup than india and their batting is decent enough to stand to indian attack and post 500 any day. I still believe, Pakistan also can bring india's home winning streak to an end like they always did in the past whether india stood tall in 'man to man' in every contest we played. I dont know when indians will learn that its all about results, not about men and their double, tripple tons on dead rubbers or any other stat for that matter. If you wanna talk about, talk about a wining ratios across the board. Learn humility coz of you will be arrogant, others will be as well

  • Ganes.V on December 28, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    This match is poised for a great finish! It all depends on how well India bat on Day3. If they are able to increase the lead to beyond 300, yes there is a chance of India winning- but anything less than 300 even a 290- the mind set totally changes for the team chasing and one or two partnerships will set the game for SA. My money is on SA still as they are playing at home

  • on December 28, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    wid so many days to go and d experts sayin the pitch holds no demons it will be more a test of nerves for both the teams than spectacular cricket that will win the match

  • on December 28, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    If SA even remotely challenge the score India makes in their second innings, Indi do not deserve to be the number one,, But I think SA's chances are slim..

  • Happy_AusBang on December 27, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    Gopal, I think this match can still go either way. I would like India to win although I feel it is SA that will most likely prevail. Anyway, I think you are slightly inaccurate when you say only SA are capable of challenging India consistently. I think it has to be Pakistan. Pakistan has always challenged India, even when they had depleted teams as they very often have. I think India-Pak series were much more closely fought than the Ashes.

  • SnowSnake on December 27, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    I think some authors and critics draw quick judgement. This match can go either way, so to criticize either India or SA would be premature. It is best to hold your peace for 1 or 2 days and then express your opinions.

  • braindead_rocker on December 27, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    All the Pakistani fans who were jumping on India...SA'a batting sucks so much that they folded for 132 on home soil batting second against the world's worst bowling attack(per you guys)....

    India is no1 in tests for best the best Test team...

  • vakkaraju on December 27, 2010, 22:10 GMT

    Never underestimate the opposition. Australia spoke too soon after Perth. They are now in total disarray. SA after the first test thought India would keel over too!! India are now a different team in their approach, determination and self belief. Even the Indian journalists cannot see it yet. They are weighed down by history and reflect their own lack of self belief and pessimism. Go Dhoni. Don't read the papers.

  • corpusninja on December 27, 2010, 21:22 GMT

    hmm seems the comments section is a little lighht now that s. africa have been given a dose of their own medicine. so much for india not being able to bat well on such surfaces. seems no one is capable! australia skittled for under 100, and saf for just over 100 within two days. what goes around comes around.

  • zaheerfan on December 27, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    where r all those people who criticized India for getting out cheaply in the 1st innings at Centurion?? look what happened now.. SA could not handle even the WORST BOWLING TEAM.. SA got lucky @ Centurion not only with the toss but mainly not having to face Zaheer..He is "the man" .. But the match is still in play.. I think the rest of the Indian team has to bat well tomorrow ( at least a target of 275 plus) then India has a better chance of winning the game and Shut up all the critics .. Go India GO.. We deserve to be No 1

  • on December 27, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    Agree completely. Man to man, SA is the only team capable of challenging India consistently. None of the other teams is good enough to even carry drinks for India!! However the mental aspect is where SA does seem a little conservative. They could still win this, however after today's show it seems highly unlikely they will

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  • on December 27, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    Agree completely. Man to man, SA is the only team capable of challenging India consistently. None of the other teams is good enough to even carry drinks for India!! However the mental aspect is where SA does seem a little conservative. They could still win this, however after today's show it seems highly unlikely they will

  • zaheerfan on December 27, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    where r all those people who criticized India for getting out cheaply in the 1st innings at Centurion?? look what happened now.. SA could not handle even the WORST BOWLING TEAM.. SA got lucky @ Centurion not only with the toss but mainly not having to face Zaheer..He is "the man" .. But the match is still in play.. I think the rest of the Indian team has to bat well tomorrow ( at least a target of 275 plus) then India has a better chance of winning the game and Shut up all the critics .. Go India GO.. We deserve to be No 1

  • corpusninja on December 27, 2010, 21:22 GMT

    hmm seems the comments section is a little lighht now that s. africa have been given a dose of their own medicine. so much for india not being able to bat well on such surfaces. seems no one is capable! australia skittled for under 100, and saf for just over 100 within two days. what goes around comes around.

  • vakkaraju on December 27, 2010, 22:10 GMT

    Never underestimate the opposition. Australia spoke too soon after Perth. They are now in total disarray. SA after the first test thought India would keel over too!! India are now a different team in their approach, determination and self belief. Even the Indian journalists cannot see it yet. They are weighed down by history and reflect their own lack of self belief and pessimism. Go Dhoni. Don't read the papers.

  • braindead_rocker on December 27, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    All the Pakistani fans who were jumping on India...SA'a batting sucks so much that they folded for 132 on home soil batting second against the world's worst bowling attack(per you guys)....

    India is no1 in tests for best the best Test team...

  • SnowSnake on December 27, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    I think some authors and critics draw quick judgement. This match can go either way, so to criticize either India or SA would be premature. It is best to hold your peace for 1 or 2 days and then express your opinions.

  • Happy_AusBang on December 27, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    Gopal, I think this match can still go either way. I would like India to win although I feel it is SA that will most likely prevail. Anyway, I think you are slightly inaccurate when you say only SA are capable of challenging India consistently. I think it has to be Pakistan. Pakistan has always challenged India, even when they had depleted teams as they very often have. I think India-Pak series were much more closely fought than the Ashes.

  • on December 28, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    If SA even remotely challenge the score India makes in their second innings, Indi do not deserve to be the number one,, But I think SA's chances are slim..

  • on December 28, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    wid so many days to go and d experts sayin the pitch holds no demons it will be more a test of nerves for both the teams than spectacular cricket that will win the match

  • Ganes.V on December 28, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    This match is poised for a great finish! It all depends on how well India bat on Day3. If they are able to increase the lead to beyond 300, yes there is a chance of India winning- but anything less than 300 even a 290- the mind set totally changes for the team chasing and one or two partnerships will set the game for SA. My money is on SA still as they are playing at home