South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day

India pay for inconsistency

On a day when the quality of India's bowling swung as wildly as the weather fluctuated, the visitors failed to capitalise on a rare toss that was won by MS Dhoni

Sidharth Monga at Newlands

January 2, 2011

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

Sreesanth is pleased to see AB de Villiers' back, South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day, January 2, 2011
Inda will need all of Sreesanth's rhythm on the second morning, preferably in cohesion with some good bowling from the other end © Getty Images
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Like the weather in Cape Town today, the Indian bowling blew hot and cold, ranging from a start where the relationship between Zaheer Khan and Graeme Smith took another step towards the one between Shane Warne and Daryll Cullinan, to a spell of loose balls that allowed Hashim Amla to get away to a counterattacking start, to the inexplicable ploy of not trying to take wickets from Harbhajan Singh's end, to Sreesanth's two good spells in the evening without much reward. In the end, it will be fair to say that India didn't quite capitalise on having won only their second toss in 15 Tests, in conditions where after batting for 110 minutes, Hashim Amla said he would have preferred to be in the field. "The wicket had a lot in it. If you hit a decent length, there was a lot swing and a lot of nip. The ball did get a little wet, but it did quite a bit."

There was a fair bit good about India's bowling today: Zaheer's start, Ishant Sharma's control once Amla and Alviro Petersen threatened to get away, and Sreesanth's movement both ways even after the sun came out. However, the good things about India's bowling didn't quite come together. The drizzle breaks didn't quite help, in that they stalled the momentum, but the batsmen could complain just as much - if not more - about the breaks.

India's 2011 did get off to a great start, with Zaheer causing all sorts of trouble with the new ball, both from over and round the stumps. After the first drizzle break came a spate of overpitched deliveries, and Amla was off. "Just had a lot of bad balls, to be honest," Amla said. "There were quite a few full balls and I capitalised on them, and the momentum was kind of with me." It would have helped if Sreesanth had got off to a good start, but he was lazy by his own admission in the first over, and neutered Zaheer's work to an extent.

"I don't know. Every time you don't get into rhythm," Sreesanth said of his troubles with the first spells throughout this series. "The key is just to get that. I have been struggling a bit, more like I have been bowling well in patches. I want to be more consistent. I'm working on it. It's a learning process for me and I think I'm doing justice to my talent."

Time, though, was not going to wait for Sreesanth to get his rhythm right. As he said, "They were helpful conditions and if I could I would take this atmosphere all around. Those are the best conditions you could bowl in." Ishant then produced the breakthrough with Petersen's wicket, but Sreesanth and Zaheer continued to be loose. Soon after the second break, Amla got five boundaries in four overs without having to go looking for them.

Sreesanth somehow drew a top edge from Amla, and it was perhaps the slow over-rate that took India to Harbhajan. Moreover Zaheer had bowled 15 overs out of the 33 by then - some very good, a few ordinary - and would have needed a break. Harbhajan's economy-rate of close to three an over might suggest a good holding job, but a closer look tells a different story. Almost throughout his 18-over spell, he had a long-on in place, and 29 of the 56 runs off him came in singles. It had to be the over-rate that kept him on for that long, because there wasn't much help for him in the pitch. And when it came to keeping runs down, Ishant was more economical, but bowled two overs fewer on a day that was good for fast bowling. In terms of an attempt to take wickets, those 18 Harbhajan overs were a complete write-off, and it was a surprise that India didn't wait for a single hit over mid-on before sending the man out.

Sreesanth came back with two impressive spells, where he was almost always in the channels that made the batsmen play. He also got the ball to move both ways, beating the outside edge on numerous occasions and also getting inside edges onto the pads. In the first of those spells, he conceded just 11 in five overs for the wicket of AB de Villiers. The second spell of four overs, leading up to stumps, went for just five and was an equal examination for the batsmen. He will have days when he will bowl worse for more success, but there will also be days when bowling short and wide to Amla - as he did to get him out in Durban - will cost him boundaries all day long.

However, India still have a chance to make amends with the new ball becoming due early on the second morning. Sreesanth said he felt in good rhythm. Inda will need all of that, preferably in cohesion with some good bowling from the other end.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Willowarriers on (January 3, 2011, 8:15 GMT)

@ phoenixsteve -- if they can get to 500+ and also get the moon and the stars and everythin in between - yeah just like that... gawd - what do you guys think SA is! they will NEVER get 500 here and all that pride in bowling out India's "old" men will come crashing down... the SA batting lne up against the Indian's man to man is chalk and cheese and except for steyn SA have no consistent bowlers... even I can't wait to see the expression on your face when SA fielders are chasing leather

Posted by anver777 on (January 3, 2011, 7:40 GMT)

India won the important toss but couldn't take the fullest advantage of the condition.. Kallis is still there & if he stays then SA can target 350-400 runs.......will be a good score after been 32 for 2.........

Posted by Au_co on (January 3, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

Kallis was lucky to get off from a LBW shout. Those are part and parcel of the game. ICC to be blamed for not insisting BCCI to use UDRS. The same goes with India in last test in which Zaheer was plumb in front. But that was not given. Had two howlers against SA at Durban not gone in India's way, now India might have lost the series already by 2-0 Margiin and they might have played for pride alone.

Posted by stormy16 on (January 3, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

I agree with the article - I think Bhaji was used in a defensive mode when attack was the call on that wicket and with seamers. Going in with 3 seamers is always going to be an issue but Zaheer and Sharma are young and should have bowled more and ZAK used more spairingly. In the end ZAK looked tired as you would be at his age after bowling nearly 20 overs! India bowled well but SA played well and showed the home advantage on knowing how to bat on this type of wicket. AB played a sub-continent shot to get out to a beatiful outswinger many of which Kallis left alone. Finally Dhoni had two slips for two long which showed lack of intent to attack on a wicket which required 3 slips most of the time. Having said all of that both sides have all to play for this morning which will decide what the SA first innings total will be.

Posted by Point4 on (January 3, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

@Quaser-Sahil is an Indian name as well (just like you would find a lot of Imrans in Inida although non Asians may think this is is a Pakistani name)and Sahil Dutt a is from N india.does not have any international experience in his CV but yes,his commentary and comments are awesome and spot on.Now coming back to this match,always and Always Amla-Kallis axis has been pivotal to SA batting in this series especially since Smith is off colour.They have won the first day honours and regardlesss of what the locals think about the pitch (batsman friendly)if the over cast conditions remain it ill always offer something for bowlers.Indian bowlers infact bowled well really well at times and the term inconsistant sums up the effort.No need for them to get disappointed,they will have days like this when the bpwl well for not much reward.I think a scoe of 350 would be good on this track which SA semm sure to score now.May be we will see either side struggling to take 10th to 20th wickets on day4,5

Posted by Murugan1969 on (January 3, 2011, 6:40 GMT)

Kallis is sure to get his 38th ton today. ponting will be pushed to 3rd place very soon :-) can Kallis overtake Tendulkar?

Posted by TheHonestCritic on (January 3, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

Like I said yesterday, It's a batting wicket at newlands , SA sure looks to get to 350-400 today or even 500 if Indian bowlers dont make new ball count.Kaliis is the key , they have to quickly get through him & expose not so good SA's tail (boucher included). Else the match could end up as high scoring draw unless much famed Indian batting lineup falters again. I guess , its going to be a run feast today.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

Guess Smith wouldn't complain so much, now that Kallis was lbw as shown by Hawk Eye but wasn't adjudged so ! Any matured captain, like Dhoni, would know that in cricket it evens out. So why behave like a sore loser?

Posted by Johnny_129 on (January 3, 2011, 5:25 GMT)

Although Indian bowlers bowled well in parts, they certainly did not bowl enough wicket taking deliveries. They is much the sameness about this Indian 'pace' attack - all medium pace stuff, hardly any bouncers bowled and all they look underdone! Although Zaheer is highly skillful and manages to get breaks for India, he looks so unfit - looks like he swallowed a hippo!! Watching him lumbering in his run-up to deliver his slow-medium stuff, you'd think that he would collapse before reaching the bowling crease. While Sreesanth and Ishant seem to be moving down to Zaheers pace!

Posted by sabee66 on (January 3, 2011, 4:31 GMT)

indian bowling is little bit ok on this wicket but credit goes to the pitch and weather

imagine if AMIR,Asif would be there, ohhh, they will destroy SA or anyone

Posted by mysay on (January 3, 2011, 4:09 GMT)

I know its way too early to call, but I think the match could very well be a drawn one. Batting will be a lot easier from day 2 onwards and with Kallis at the wicket a big score will not be impossible for SA. However with India's batting depth, they too could go the distance, therefore unless the wicket has life till around the third day, I don't see a result. Maybe one way to go for a win would be an acceleration in the scoring rate. I also think India made major blunders by avoiding attacking field sets on a day conducive to seam bowling. And Vnott to the naked eye Kallis LBW was going down leg.

Posted by crisspyman on (January 3, 2011, 3:50 GMT)

I was really happy wid d start produced by our bowlers.........After that somewhere something went wrong......Iam really disappointed with Ishanth coz he doesnt have the ability to swing the ball but why cant he use his pace.........Most of the time he was around 130 mark........Really frustrating..........

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 3:19 GMT)

It is how indian bowlers bowled yeaterday without inconsistency,the second morning for india is crucial for india,they should pick kallis and other batsmen early,otherwise south africa will run after the game,it needs patientce and consistency.If one strategy wont work try for new one,yesterday indians did'nt use the bouncers at a all,they should use all strategy to win this game.all the best.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 2:50 GMT)

Why is Dhoni more concerned about the over rate than taking wickets? Most likely he will be fined and the worst thing that can happen is that he will be banned for 1 test. Dhoni should know the importance of the current test match. Harbhajan looked innocuous from the other end and that allowed the batsmen to settle down. He should have given an extended spell to Sreesanth and Zaheer bowling in tandem as they were by far the best bowlers on Day 1.

Posted by JustOUT on (January 3, 2011, 2:10 GMT)

@vnott - Dont say Kallis was lucky to be there etc etc, if thats the case, India was lucky to win in Durban with 2 wrong decision for key SA players.

Posted by cooljack_143 on (January 3, 2011, 2:09 GMT)

India pay for inconsistency?????? I dont see any inconsistency here.Infact all the bowlers had done pretty well.Had that,LBW decision for Kallis given out there would have been much impact on this game.This is a batting patch guys and infact even SA would also been in this same position.Remember India has one of the best batting line ups in the world cricket.If they can take quick wickets tomorrow and restrict SA for 300-320 Sehwag and party can do teh rest for them.you know what impact Sehwag has on the game,he can get this score in one day.So lets hope for the good game.

Posted by Viv-Viru on (January 3, 2011, 1:49 GMT)

I agree. Watching the first hour I thought that SA bowlers would have taken advantage of the conditions much better than India did.That may be the only consolation to India. But not capitalizing after Smith's early dismissal was a huge squandered opportunity.

Zaheer and Sreesanth generally bowled well but I did not understand why the slips did not move up a little even after watching an edge from Peterson drop short.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 1:36 GMT)

If the wicket is going to be conducive for batting on day 2 and 3, I expect fireworks from Shewag. He is due for a big knock. If he gets going, SA bowlers would look like puppets and their lethal attack will be toyed by Shewag. I am excited to see that.

Posted by coolshan07 on (January 3, 2011, 1:35 GMT)

@Vnott:- Hey man, plz don't complain about wrong decisions. India have ignored UDSR since last year. In the last match SA lost 2 wickets because of very very bad decisions. And Zaheer's plump LBW was not given. So, if you guys want good umpiring decisions plz ask ur board and players to accept UDSR, since all other cricketing nations have accepted it.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 1:01 GMT)

I think the key for india to win this test match would be to bat well against morkel and steyn! If India can manage to work out this ferocious team, then I guess half their job is done! I also feel that as almost always, Sehwag holds the key to India winning this test.If Sehwag can score a big score (which obviously would come at a fast clip), then the match is in the bag!

Posted by mitgop11 on (January 3, 2011, 0:33 GMT)

the current indian team resembles a typical ranji team.. power packed batting, fast bowlers who can bowl as fast as 132kmph, and no allrounder. Works wonderfully well in domestic tournaments... all teams seek to bat the opposition out.. that practice eradicated the culture of breeding fast bowlers and the result of that has started to be felt. If India A were to play a game tomorrow, who are the three potential fast bowlers to play in that game ? are those good enough to play for India at some point of time ? change should happen at the root level.... meaningless ranji format should be changed. teams should be rewarded for outright results... pitches should be improved..is that a lot to ask for ?

Posted by mitgop11 on (January 3, 2011, 0:21 GMT)

Indian bowlers did not capitalise on the best bowling conditions early on.... lack of pace and importantly lack of consistency cost them. Had Steyn and co got an opportunity to bowl under these conditions, things would have been lot different. Lack of genuine quickie to bowl with Zaheer will cost India. Lack of real fast bowlers knocking the indian door is a very bad sign. A seamer allrounder is out of question. With these issues, india being no1 for a long time seems to be a long and painful dream!

Posted by INDIA_THE_BEST_END_OF_DISCUSSION on (January 3, 2011, 0:17 GMT)

@phoenixsteve, india don't have to reveal their younger youth yet, because teams round the world are still falling before our 'old' men. Therefore we are not revealing our full strenght until needed. Its top secret!

Posted by INDIA_THE_BEST_END_OF_DISCUSSION on (January 3, 2011, 0:05 GMT)

guys..I hope india win...you all with me on this one?

Posted by spinkingKK on (January 3, 2011, 0:04 GMT)

I think Indian bolwers did well. So did SA batsmen. But, toss could prove vital in the end as there will be plenty of runs in the pitch for the Indian batsmen

Posted by Nampally on (January 2, 2011, 23:19 GMT)

Dhoni did his job by winning the toss and fielding first. But the Indian bowling was disappointingly poor. Dhoni did not handle them well either. What is the point of bowling 15 overs from Harbhajan who did nothing with the ball. When sree faltered, he should have been replaced by Ishant instead of being slogged by Amla. That is where India lost the initial advantage. Munaf Patel would have done much better. Secondly, Kallis escaped being LBW to Sree thru; Umpire Tuffel. Hawk eye showed he was out. That umpiring decision was the second turning point. Will Indian bowlers regroup and produce some test class bowling on Day 2.Only consolation of winning the Toss was not facing Steyn & Morkel on pretty nippy wicket which groundsman called batting paradise. India has to get Kallis & prince in the first hour if they have any chance of restricting the SA total. On this wicket if India had bowled well & Kallis given LBW, SA should have been out below 200. Tomorrow is another day to fight back

Posted by Vnott on (January 2, 2011, 22:58 GMT)

Kallis was lucky here to get off from a solid LBW shout... With that SA may have ended up 225/6 or 7. While bowling Harbhajan one end kept the score down, India shd hv gone for a wicket taking option both ends ...Nevertheless a see saw battle with SA emerging marginally ahead at the end of days play. South Africa shd make 350-400... Getting kallis early will close them around 350. . A good total but conditions are likely to be good for batting day 2 and 3. Expect this to go to the wire completely and till the last session on day 5....

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 22:32 GMT)

it is time taking process ya ............................they have done good but they can do more better but it is a even game so some time pitch assist bowlers some time not so they have to work hard

Posted by phoenixsteve on (January 2, 2011, 21:51 GMT)

Good start by the Proteas. If they can get over the 2nd new ball and push on to set India 500+, this game could well be over early? Should be fascinating to see how India's old men cope with really agressive stuff and a big total to chase on a 'sporting' wicket...... can't wait!

Posted by Quaser on (January 2, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

I listened to the podcast on the ashes. There's a guy there, sahil (pakistani name) dutta (Indian name) who speaks like an Englisher! He rightly said that Zahir was key to Indian attack since he inspires others and takes wickets. But MS, don't over do him. Use him intelligently. India can be No1 if they win this series away from home, but inconsistency is not the basis for being No 1. Anyway i,2,3 doesn't really matter since the teams are all so close. Meanwhile can anyone tell me about Sahil Dutta, seems to talk a lot of sense.

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