South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Johannesburg

Dhoni defends bowlers after de Villiers' attack

Sidharth Monga in Johannesburg

December 4, 2013

Comments: 88 | Text size: A | A

Mohammed Shami had Shane Watson bowled with a peach, India v Australia, 4th ODI, Ranchi, October 23, 2013
MS Dhoni believes India's seamers can make most of the conditions in South Africa © BCCI

'Important how you exploit conditions' - Dhoni

Moments before MS Dhoni spoke, a day before India's first international on the tour,AB de Villiers laid down the gauntlet. When asked if South Africa could actually be considered underdogs in a home series, given their recent record in ODIs and India's No. 1 status in the ICC rankings, de Villiers said there was no way South Africa were going to stand back and allow that to happen. He said it should not be forgotten they were playing in home conditions, against a subcontinent team, one that has "a very bad record" in the country.

There wasn't much wrong in what de Villers said. India have never won a bilateral series in South Africa. Of the 25 ODIs they have played against South Africa here, they have won just five. The thing with the Indian team under MS Dhoni, though, is they don't pay much heed to these statistics. Most of Dhoni's players have come here with a clean slate, and carry the confidence of a good year behind them.

Dhoni said the numbers didn't bother him overly. "Before you asked me, that was not on my mind," he said. "I will try to make sure it doesn't stay in there."

Part of the reason for Dhoni's confidence is that two of those five wins came under him, on the last trip. "Yes we haven't done well," he said, "But there were instances, even the last time we came here, we had a good opportunity to win the series but we didn't cash in on that. So it is important we play well. Only thing is, in a three-match series it becomes a little difficult if a team lags behind and loses the first game. There is extra pressure on the team that has lost the first game."

The first game is important as it is the one India are least prepared for. It's the same old feeling. Invariably, India go into their first away match with little acclimatisation. Invariably, weather turns up to complicate matters. Over the last three days, Johannesburg's weather has been giving Melbourne and Auckland an inferiority complex. Stars were visible at 4.30am on Wednesday. It was foggy at 5am, sunny at 8am, rainy at 10am, back to unbearably sunny an hour later, and cold minutes later, before it became sunny again. Rain is expected to affect the match on Thursday, and there will almost certainly be dew at night. Even a mobile phone becomes damp within 15 minutes of its staying out in the open.

And dew is one factor, according to Dhoni, that has given his side's bowling a bad name. "What's important is how much you exploit the conditions. It's not about having the best bowling attack," Dhoni said, when told that de Villiers had said India's was not the best by a stretch. De Villiers had even suggested batsmen tend to lose wickets underestimating them.

"We have done pretty well," Dhoni said. "There have been ups and downs. Where we have struggled a bit is when there is dew on the field. And when we play on really flat surfaces. That's where our bowlers haven't done outstandingly well. But what we have seen is, if there is a bit of help for them, they have made the most of whatever is on offer. I think overall we are quite happy with the way they have bowled so far, the ups and the downs."

Dhoni is not perturbed by the Indian bowlers' general lack of pace. "If you don't have bowlers who can bowl 145 or 150 [kph], then no point thinking about pace and bounce," he said. "If you have someone who can swing the ball, we will make the most of the conditions here. With [two] new balls they may get a bit of swing initially. Try and get wickets in the first 10 overs, and that can have an impact on the game."

After that, Dhoni joined his team-mates in a game of football, before they began their fielding drills and light batting sessions. As they did so, the bleachers were being cleaned, the hospitality boxes stocked, and the greenish pitch covered. The Wanderers is not quite the MCG, but when you stand in the middle or walk down that famous tunnel you feel it can get intimidating when full, especially when you face up left towards the Golf Course End's steeply rising stands. De Villiers' men, wearing pink for charity, might not look as threatening as the West Indians who added menace to the colour in the 1980s, but they will be ready with whatever they can throw at India.

Will India be prepared for it?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

lol... what a bowling attack... certainly dhoni is feeling ashamed n AB will be smiling

Posted by keptalittlelow on (December 5, 2013, 15:10 GMT)

I am afraid the great Indian cricketers are heading to a great defeat in the first ODI sorry.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

Phewwwww... Even the toss hasn't taken place and comments made like umpiring decisions go against india .... Omg one word defines it Excuses ... Think indian fans Believe defeat is evident...

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 11:24 GMT)

@Harmony111 of course you know exactly what I'm talking about and theres plenty more examples in recent years, however, there is no point debating with you as you will just do your usual of making ridiculous comments and when proved wrong change the goal posts and declare how right you where which although entertaining is no where near as entertaining as the cricket about to start, so aidos

Posted by keptalittlelow on (December 5, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

@Harmony111, Keep backing the flat track bullies you will be disappointed here though. No doubt Dhoni is a stronger captain of the two, yet Indians are no match to SA. You have compared SA with Pak in that case Dont forget this 'world beater' India lost to brittle Pak in their last encounter.

Posted by Biggus on (December 5, 2013, 11:00 GMT)

After all the Indians calling any pitch where the ball rises above knee height a greentop they're finally going to get to play on one. My cup of schadenfreud is running over.

Posted by Harmony111 on (December 5, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

@Keith Waters:

Mind telling me what is it that the BCCI has done wrong? I honestly don't have any idea what you are talking about.

By any chance, are you talking about the SA tour where BCCI refused to be taken for granted by CSA and where CSA is paying for its haughtiness? By any chance, are you talking about DRS where BCCI refuses to use a system that costs a bomb and suffers from several idiosyncratic issues and is supposedly meant only for howlers?

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

@Dravid_Sachin_Gravitas_Atheist - really you gonna pull out rules of injustice after what the BCCI has just done? thanks for the good laugh I needed it.

On a serious note if you have a problem with how international cricket is run these days take it up with the BCCI

Everyone else criticsing AB you gotta admit India has not covered its self in glory on previous trips to SA - they have never won an ODI or Test series there and lets face it after the actions of the BCCI no matter what is said in public personally each player will be seething and looking for blood (except Amla that Guy is as cold as Ice lol) so SA are in their rights to feel confident its up to India to PROVE how good they are. Personally Im looking forward to the battle.

Posted by waqasyounus on (December 5, 2013, 10:19 GMT)

Anyhow this is India's best chance in ODI's

The test series result is dead sure SA will win comprehensively as except Pujara India doesnt have a batsmen who can play in testing conditions with patience ...

In ODI's its a 50 50 game !! who plays better on the day !!

Posted by waqasyounus on (December 5, 2013, 10:13 GMT)

Well Guys !! It will be tough for Indian batsmen I am sure . The Onus is on Kohli and Dhoni to win it for India

I dont think Sharma and Dhawan can party in these conditions

Raina and Yuvraj frankly i dont expect much from them as they will be bombarded with short pitch stuff which they cannot play

The people who are syaing CHampion trophy in England, so you see England pitches were not Fast nor they were swining, they were slow and low

But SA will prepare hard green tracks to welcome India Boys !!

Posted by concerned_cricketer on (December 5, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

Dhoni the finisher Vs AB De Villiers the nearly finisher.

Posted by Pavinasen on (December 5, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

Dravid_Sachin_Gravitas_Atheist ,thanks for clearing this,it read you completely wrong.

Posted by Harmony111 on (December 5, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

I would say that ABD's words actually convey his nervousness. He is trying to appear tougher by talking in a blustery manner cos he knows the truth. Take ABD out and SA are left with a batting unit that will really really struggle in any condition, flat or not. I would even say that in terms of being brittle, even with ABD, SA are right there with Pak at the moment & I have the stats to back this claim, not that I think anyone would challenge me on that one.

SA have a strong bowling unit but to be honest, there too without Steyn, SA's bowling is not really any killer unit. I hope most people will agree with me there too. India faced Steyn, Morkel etc in WC & even an aging Sachin scored a fab 100 vs them. Without Steyn, SA looked mostly harmless in the CT13 when India scored 334.

So it is between:

A Weak Indian Bowling vs a Brittle SA Batting


A Strong Indian Batting vs a Strong SA Bowling.

India's weakness is that they are not yet acclimatized else they were firm favorites.

Posted by Saquiban on (December 5, 2013, 8:46 GMT)

I am in agreement that Indian batsmen are very good and they can perform well in any conditions, in recent champions trophy in England we witnessed, but South Africa is most scientific team they probably work on most players and bowl accordingly, but I always support Talent over Science :)

Posted by Pavinasen on (December 5, 2013, 8:38 GMT)

Posted by on (December 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT),I get this feeling that it could become a bit embarrasing for AB with all the talk.What do you think buddy.All that is need is for india to bat SA out of the game,and don't worry about the bowling.These guys are very capable of doing this.What I have noticed is that the indian quicks have a better bowling record on wickwts like SA,Eng. W/indies , aus ie out of the subcontinent.The sa batsmen will battle against indian quickies

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 5, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

@Pavinasen, you didn't seem to understand the satire in my post. People are always quick to brand MSD as disgraceful when he wants turning pitches in India but here we have ABDV asking for green pitches with grass in SA. Nobody is saying that he is disgraceful. The reason for this kind of ready-made passive acceptance from us is because we have been told, grinded into us, drilled into us that it is within the spirits to have lots of grass on the pitch but it is not within in the spirits to have turning tracks. And who told us what is within the spirit and what isn't within the spirit all these years? Yours truly England/Australia/SA. The sub-continent fans are more than happy to accept their definitions without questioning them. And so I came up with some new rules filled with irony and satire in judging Team India and her players. I gave 17 new rules till now over the last couple of days. This was my 18th new rule. I hope I'm clear now.

Posted by SyedArbabAhmed on (December 5, 2013, 8:21 GMT)

This is Indian's best chance, SA team has only 2 match winning batsman Amla and Ab de, rest play around him, but Indian bowling is weak unlike Pakistan.

Posted by Pavinasen on (December 5, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

Dravid_Sachin_Gravitas_Atheist, how come a request for a certain type of wicked could be fair for one but unfair or even disgraceful to another

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

India call for teams at their home soil which are weaker in playing spin and relish the taste of winning.......... what happened to dhawan and kohli against pak in bilateral series this year ?????? so stop boasting and focus on giving tough competition to proteas...........................

Posted by Pavinasen on (December 5, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

AB has the habit of trying to intimidate the opposition by remarks like India's bowling was not the best by a stretch. De Villiers had even suggestedthat even the indian batsmen tend to lose wickets and thereby underestimating them.We are sick of hearing this ,series in series out and they do'nt have anything to show for it.My best advise is for AB to put his money where is mouth is.Dhoni's response was very diplomatic,and he is the guy that can put his money where his mouth is.,just look at the state of Indian cricket under his leadership

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 5, 2013, 7:49 GMT)

Rule # 18 It is not disgraceful for an SA captain to ask for green pitches with grass and for CSA+Curators to grant those wishes on a platter. But it is disgraceful for an Indian Captain to ask for a turning pitch.

No, these are 'not' double standards. These are the normal 'fair' standards we have been seeing for decades. Take a bow MSD, for your attitude of couldn't care less for the established 'fair' standards.

Posted by Pavinasen on (December 5, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

There are extreme differences between the 2 captains.AB is much more intimadating and always comes up with stuff that they are prepared for any team to the effect that the visiting team's bolwers have no bite and he believes that the indian batting will wilt under the pace attack of his bowlers.This was also said of the pakistan team that they will be no match to SA in SA,but backfired against AB.

MSD on the other hand is very diplomatic."What's important is how much you exploit the conditions. It's not about having the best bowling attack," Dhoni said,If you don't have bowlers who can bowl 145 or 150 [kph], then no point thinking about pace and bounce," he said. "If you have someone who can swing the ball, we will make the most of the conditions here. With [two] new balls they may get a bit of swing initially.Try and get wickets in the first 10 overs, and that can have an impact on the game.

Just remember that this indian team although inexperienced are now ruthless competitors

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 7:30 GMT)

I don't think it's gonna be a tough game for both teams. i think it's gonna be a one side game and that one winning side is going to be India.................! South africans are playing mind games with words, but indians are going to show their talent with bat and ball.......!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 5, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

It is very commendable that Team India goes into overseas tours with zero match practice. I won't envy their position. But am proud of their superlative returns vis-à-vis what they have to deal with time and again. Go India go.....A billion people are proud of you......

Posted by Bladerunners on (December 5, 2013, 7:24 GMT)

Devilliers is india who is undrdog not SA.indians will not b compatative in any format in diffcult SA condition whch only suits a batsmen who hav lot of footworks.but unfortunately i dont see any indian player have proper is going to b a onesided series.

Posted by balaji28 on (December 5, 2013, 7:20 GMT)

Records that AB devillers is mentioning is a huge humbug just now southafrica got thrashings from pakistan. Even southafricans have a poor middle order as compared to india's poor middle order viz raina and yuvi. I think proteas will today get a nightmare from pace duos of bhuvi and shami, spinning combo of ashwin and jaddu. I think proteas needs to respect their opponents new bowling line up.According to my prediction shikhar,dhoni,kohli will srely show their class.I still have doubts if rohit,raina and yuvi can manage in boucy tracks.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

I think current Indian team can give some very good fight specially in one dayers as they started playing different brand of cricket. Top order really doing well as cricket is all about confidence and I am sure this confidence team can beat SA first time in bilateral series. Umesh and Shami will provide some fire works and I am sure some of the SA batsmen will find them difficult

Posted by shabbir on (December 5, 2013, 6:19 GMT)

Guys go and check the results of triangular series played in August 2013 between A teams of Aus, Ind and SA in South Africa and India won the series. Pujara and Dhawan Scored big centuries. Come out od 80 an 90's mould we are not so bad.

Posted by loonykiwirocker on (December 5, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

@koldmeat - thanks for your support bro. Always feels good to receive support from unexpected quarters. If both teams play to form, it will be a cracker of a series. And hearty congratulations to Pakistan for winning the ODI series in SA.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 5:55 GMT)

@ guduji71 - So Indian batting is good only in India or sub continent??

There was a tournament called Champions Trophy which was held in ENGLAND this year. INDIA were the champions.

An Indian batsman called Dhawan scored almost 400 runs in the 5 matches he played. India won all the matches comfortably.

You say Indian bowling is miserable. They bowled out Pak for below 200, West Indies for around 200, Sri Lanka for below 200 and defended 120 against England in the final.

After that, India won the tri-series in West Indies which is miles away from the sub-continent.

Before saying just anything, have a look at the recent performances.

The confidence of Indian players is very high now and I see a series victory for India in the ODIs and a tough battle for both the teams in the test series.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

I suppose ppl r focusing to much on scoreline. given the talent at display from both the sides its the contest & competition that matters irrespective of result. I think india has got nothing to loose given the inexperience. Here r the bunch of younsters like rohit, dhawan, kohli, pujara, rahane who r going to serve indian cricket for longtime to come. dhoni will be right if he doesn't put too much pressure on his young side. There's no shame in losing provided u give a tough fight. when indian batting with fab four couldn't do it on umpteen occasions, putting pressure on these green horns is absurd. As for SA if they loose they'll invariably add more aura to this glamorous indian side. AB rightly said they r under pressure. lets njoy the series though a truncated one !

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

The lack of experience is what they said for ChampionsTrophy too. But, Rohit and Dhawan proved themselves. All India need to do is to exploit SA's weakness against spin. Umesh Yadav, if fit, has to bowl at his best to fully exploit the conditions favorable for seamers.

Posted by sujaybond007 on (December 5, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

people think that Indian batsmen (dhawan,rohit,kohli,etc.,) will struggle in SA pitches but for their information the same Indian batsmen scored runs in England pitches which is more tougher than tis in the champions trophy and top 3 among 5 in run getters in CT2013 are Indian batsmen... On Indian bowlers they have played in flat Indian pitches tis year & even the Australian bowling attack struggled...

Posted by koldmeat on (December 5, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

As a Pakistani cricket team fan I would love to see another subcontinent team beating SA. I will support India and have faith that they will destroy the hyped South African bowling line up..

Come on India, smash them...

Posted by Titus05 on (December 5, 2013, 4:57 GMT)

I think we will do much better than the previous years.. Lets not be too critical as this is first tournament India is touring outside... I am confident lots of new HEROS will arise out of both Test and the One day team... Come on India!!!

Posted by jango_moh on (December 5, 2013, 4:50 GMT)

ppl commenting here are just getting on the same bandwagon which ignorant cricket fans get into when talking about the indian team.... flat track bullies, hopeless bowlers etc.... its much more complicated/subtle than that.... i doubt these comments are coming from ppl who watched the last tour by india.... we almost won the test series, and the indian bowlers did pretty well.... anyone remember sreesanth making kallis hop!!!!

Posted by Udendra on (December 5, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

Indians are gonna have a tough time in SA. Especially with bigger grounds.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (December 5, 2013, 4:29 GMT)

Yuvi_gladiator, A batsman's weakness in one or two matches against a bowler who is different to the ones he has faced earlier, is not a permanent fixture like being a dummy against short pitched bowling. I have seen Rahane getting bowled by Finn on the two occasions in the ODIs in India. It was because he did not read the length of the ball because of Finn's high point of releasing the ball. It is not something which is for life particularly if a batsman has had taken the advice of someone who is technically proficient. I think he has done that with Rahul Dravid because I have never seen Rahane getting bowled to an incoming ball ever again. Apart from that, I think De Villiers has stated the obvious. Indian bowlers generally do better abroad because the conditions help them. So I would look to Yadav,Shami and Bhuvi to be quite effective.I do not know why we are stung to the quick when someone tells the truth.I find it strange for so many people to take cudgels against AB.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 4:16 GMT)

india's bowling is so weak. south africa will easily win 3-0

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 5, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

Its Test series that i am concerned. Who care about ODI. its useless

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 3:56 GMT)

Indian fans are absolutely delusional. There is alot of talk of Steyn(and rightly so) but I think we all forget that the real advantage is SA fantastic batting unit(esp. tests) against a feeble bowling attack.People here actually expect Indian bowlers to trouble Kallis,Amla,ABD,Smith,Dumminy much?

Yes Indian batting has been really strong in the past yr or two, but most of those run fests happened in Flat tracks of India, in their home ground.I am sure Kohli and dhoni will be fine, but Dhawan and the other new comers have only really scored in India, so they are untried in these conditions.

Contrary to the post before,I think India will be miserable in Tests, but have a fair chance in the ODIs.SA is the most balanced Test side in the world.

Posted by on (December 5, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

Dhoni is just perfect when he is talking to media. He is calculative, calm, unnerved and would never really give any hint of a weakness to anyone. The way he defends his teammates is commendable as well as his public criticism at times. I really admire his leadership skills and am looking forward to a 3-0 scoreline for India. I just hope that they bowl first today for that to happen.

Posted by kh1902 on (December 5, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

I expect South Africa to win both the one-dayers and Tests reasonably comfortably. However it would be nice to see more humility from someone like A B De Villiers whose comments reek of the arrogance for which South Africans are renowned. A minimum level of respect for your opponents never goes astray.

Posted by Guduji71 on (December 5, 2013, 2:48 GMT)

My prediction for one day series is 3 nil loss for India. India has won only 5 out of 25 one days played in SA. Indian batmen (Current) have no or very little experience in SA. Indian bowling is hopeless and batting is good only in India or Sub continent conditions. Please check their record out of subcontinent before thinking to challenging SA. Look what Steyn did to Pakistan, yes they won one day series but it was due to their bowling, the batting was made look ordinary. The test match series India will loose 2-0, as well. But it can be good learning experience for Indians.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

Bhuvi's our best chance and this will be an oppurtunity to inprove his figures. He is more than capable of getting a couple of their top order out. Devillier's is flying high on confidence at the moment but he will see what the blue team is capable of. He should mentioned CT in england that we won. we were unbeaten throughout the series.

Posted by ProdigyA on (December 5, 2013, 2:07 GMT)

I think people are giving way too much credit for this SA team than what it deserves. They are a good team in Tests but just average in ODI's. Remember they lost to Pak recently, who themselves lost to Zim and that too a Test match. India would just too much for SA at least in ODI's.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 1:46 GMT)

Indian bowlers dont usually get the pace friendly pitches in subcontinent.......even their eyes will lit up seeing the they all can swing a bit....lets wait and watch.

Posted by MarkAnthony99 on (December 5, 2013, 1:35 GMT)

The cricket board of south africa has instructed its players to destroy india in the one day series and annihilate them in the test series - see you later India!

Posted by Mail4kar on (December 5, 2013, 0:56 GMT)

That's the thing i like most from MSD. He always backs his bowlers. That really matters for the team which doesn't really produced threatening bowlers so far. The confidence will bring best out of the average pace bowlers.. I feels the top 3 of India (Shikar, Rohit, Virat) holds India's chances in this ODI series. Hope India creates History in the next few days because of the form they are in recently.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

Umpiring decisions tend to go against India.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

The SA bowling may appear to be strong on paper but if you take Steyn out of the equation, there is not much to crowe about. Definitely SA is struggling in the batting department. And Mr. Kallis has no match winning performances to write about. The only batter I respect is AB and the only bowler to respect is Steyn. I am not too worried about the ODIs. 2-1 for India. And can somebody tell AB Talk is cheap.

Posted by ChuckyDoll on (December 4, 2013, 23:11 GMT)

India must play Jadeja + 2 spinners and let SA deal with 30-35 overs of spin bowling.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

Mr. AB de Villiers outburst has openly showed how afraid he and his teammates are of this new and young Indian team which I am sure will certainly make them learn new lessons in how to hold a cricket bat. Let us wait and watch!!!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 22:41 GMT)

I can't believe that indian fans are urging their team to not lose 3-0 and 2-0 . Even fans are not at all confident that team india can topple SA ... Couple of week ago when pakistan was playing SA Indian fans were talking about SA running over pakistan ... So pakistan has beaten SA let's see what point can team india prove... Remember ... Actions speak louder than words !!!! Clue for clever people

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 22:18 GMT)

the only way Pakistan managed to survive on those wickets was not to go after every delivery bowled ,but infact try to survive on the wicket for the first 10 overs atleast so wickets in hand will give Indians a clear cut edge of try and setting a good total again the saffers,When they were playing against Pakistan ther batting didnt look that solid at all infact i wouldnt rate their batting that high they are ok ,plus said that it would be better for Indian side to bat first and give them a total which is difficult to chase ,that will be one of tricks that could go in Indians favour,oh and not to forget expect bouncers coming every now en then cuz thats one way you can get wickets early in SA

Posted by ihaq1 on (December 4, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

south africa have probably the best attack yet and they can play four pacemen...i would play morne morkel in place of miller and go for a four pronged pace attack with probably six batsmen including kallis and graeme smith...their leg spinner too seems good enough to trouble teh indians...the indians are batting quite well on slow pitches and could be troubled by the pace of steyn, morkel,tsotsobe and parnell...but teh indians do have batting depth of a high quality and emerging fast bowlers...should be a good contest if the indians want to fight which usually they donot do on tour

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 22:00 GMT)

This is going to be one hell of a test as well as one day series. As a SA supporter I would be satisfied if we win the test series and draw the one dayers. There is no way that none of the three one dayers will not be seriously affected by rain/bad weather, possible the first one in JHB. The two teams will be evenly balanced in the limited overs games. India in this form of the game must be the favourites with their young but talented and experienced batsmen. The SA selectors just cannot get the balance of the side right, and Graeme Smith is not a one day player. In the longer version, I have more confidence in the SA side, but again it will be the SA bowlers vs the Indian batsmen. A lot will depend on Zak K. If he fires and GS is not at his best, well then who knows. Pity we do not have three tests. It would be very interesting to observe what void, if any,the absence of ST will have/not have. Forget the Ashes, I look forward to the world's two best test sides in action.

Posted by StaalBurgher on (December 4, 2013, 21:50 GMT)

@binojpeter - Funny that I think it will be the other way. India to win ODIs, lots of bluster leading into Tests, and then SA to win 2-0.

Posted by jokerbala on (December 4, 2013, 21:43 GMT)

One thing India could do well is to forget the old ODI strategy of batting first .They must continue to bowl first keep it below 250 and chase it down with expert chasers like Kohli, Dhawan and Dhoni by targetting Tahir. Also people are giving undue respect to the SA batting . Apart from AB and Amla rest are not dangerous. Smith and Kallis are solid but not game changers, Miller and Duminy are kind of flash in the pan still.Beware of Tsotsobe he is in prime form.

Posted by Vilander on (December 4, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

Are they sure they want to make a green pitch..Shami,Yadav and Ishant all bowl 140+..couple of them swing it bad idea to give them a reason to do well now with what De villers has said.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

India is going to make history by defeating SA in both the format...The phase has has started of asian country to dominate an they will...

Posted by sweetspot on (December 4, 2013, 20:42 GMT)

All Dhoni needs to do is call this a "tournament" instead of a series, and SA will choke! Otherwise, this is a good contest between two well matched sides!

@AP Akshaye - What would be the point of dropping two guys who have done well on the subcontinent and replacing them with another who has done the same? Dhoni's nucleus doesn't change much.

Posted by Positive_Critic on (December 4, 2013, 20:37 GMT)

I am Indian fan myself.and I feel India would do justice to their current potential if they win the ODI series, which they should.especially considering the fact that there are chances some ODI's will be affected by rain, which could potentially make toss more crucial than conditions.. The sorry tale about Indian fans is that now they are saying that this batting line up has a lot of youngsters...The same fans would say that Kohli,Dhawan,Rohit are the best batsmen in the world when they were plundering runs on flat pitches in India...Its surprising how a Kohli is a world beater in Indian conditions and suddenly becomes a youngster in overseas conditions..

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (December 4, 2013, 20:34 GMT)

I think Bhuvi and Shami will do well in helpful conditions. I can't say the same about Mohit, Ishant, or Umesh. Raina and Jaddu will be sitting ducks for South Africa pacemen. Jaddu can score triple centuries at will on flat tracks of India, but here he will struggle to get into double figures.

Posted by TNAmarkFromIndia on (December 4, 2013, 20:10 GMT)

Too bad AB de Villiers' logic didn't work when South Africa lost the series to Pakistan. What's worse is that it's not going to work this time either. South Africa are going to lose two consecutive ODI series.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

people are saying SA depends on ABD and Amla..n thus have a weak batting line up.. if thats the case indian batting lineup depends upon kohli n dhawan in bowling bhuvi shami n jadeja(SA have problems facing spin) will be the key toss will decide fate of the game..with rain and dew factor coming in..winning the toss n bowling first will be apt.

Posted by binojpeter on (December 4, 2013, 19:06 GMT)

My prediction is that India will lose ODI series, but will be able to draw Test series. I will be slightly disappointed as an Indian fan if they lose both, but not terribly disappointed as I understand that youngsters will need some time to settle to overseas conditions.

Posted by AamirKhan-SuperStar on (December 4, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

Ultimate day of cricket on tv tomorow in india. Morning will have ashes test and afternoon wil have india's battle.

Posted by Nampally on (December 4, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

Indian openers have to counter the SA pacers in the first 15 overs. If they can keep their wkts. in tact then they can start applying pressure there after. Winning the Toss will be an important factor given the unusual weather. Now that Pujara is excluded from the ODI, Rahane or Rayudu should be #4. Neither Yuvraj nor Raina fit @ #4. But Dhoni has his own plans. I also feel Yadev might be a better bet than Mohit Sharma because of his extra pace. As for de Velliers' outburst, it is not untypical to rally his team around with aggressive tones. The fact of the matter is SA lost the ODI series to Pakistan within last fortnight in their own Kitchen. Being the first match of the tour, lack of acclimatisation may be the handicap India faces + Unfamiliar weather + Hostile Crowd. AB is clearly trying to exploit these factors because they will take a back seat in next 2 ODI's. India is #1 in ODI ranks not by fluke but based on their performance! AB's gamesmanship will back fire on him. Go India!

Posted by on (December 4, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

Dhoni is just fantastic as captain , i rate him and Clarke as 2 of the best in business when it comes to captaincy .. a lot of people think dhoni is not such a gr8 captain overseas but you cant really blame him , he tries to do the best with the resources available to him , and most importantly he never gets carried away , give him a steyn or MJ or ryan harris , then we will know how good and attacking he can be

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

All the best team India...bowlers r in good shape..n can easily exploit the weak batting of SA

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 4, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

Actually, I am not upset about what AB has said. He has only stated historical facts and stats. However, what he and the South African public need to understand is that stats and records are meant to be broken. What happened with Indian teams of the past has ZERO bearing on what is about to unfold the next month or so. This Indian team is no slouch. In fact, they have a very settled frame of mind and do NOT fear any opposition. Bring on Steyn, Morkel and whoever it is SA have got, India have the answers to them. After all this is a sport played between 22 players. SA are putting forward their country's best XI and so are India. May the better team win. But to foolishly predict a defeat for India is stupidity of the highest degree. What goes around comes around. SA don't have a good record in India themselves other than a period in the late 90s when Cronje was their captain. So both teams are even stevens but India are slightly ahead in terms of confidence and recent performances.

Posted by yuvi_gladiator on (December 4, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

@AP Akshaye : Rahane's technical weakness against pace was exposed even by finn which is an average bowler himself. So i don't believe how people keep hyping him up. this is not IPL buddy

Posted by panduteam1 on (December 4, 2013, 18:27 GMT)

please do not lose 3-0 and 2-0. Give some fight. good luck

Posted by boomslanger on (December 4, 2013, 18:25 GMT)

A review of the recently concluded South Africa-Pakistan ODI and Test series gives an idea of what kind of form the South African bowlers might carry to the ODI series with India. Also, cricinfo archives from 2010 onwards till date(looks like bowling speeds were first regularly recorded and included in cricinfo's live commentary on matches in South Africa February 2010 onwards. This is not available for matches featuring New Zealand even today.) It can be observed that the majority of Steyn' wicket taking balls were bowled at @ 80-85Mph. In comparison, Johnson was regularly touching 90Mph in the recently concluded India-Australia series as well as the first Ashes test in Australia. Steyn has been around for sometime now and may not the speed demon he used to be. Any tailoring of the pitch could be a double edged sword with Indian bowlers like Shami, Yadav and Sharma (who can all bowl at good pace) giving back as good as they get. India needs to discount the SA hype from their psyche.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

I do feel de Villiers was harsh on his assessment of the Indian bowlers, but he does have partial truth in his words. Indian bowlers are pathetic outside India. And this will be a test for Dhawan, who seems to be confident, but has to face Steyn's fury yet.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

SA will be fired up after big first ever ODI series loss to Pakistan and they will play out of their skins against indians to avoid another series defeat.

I believe SA bowling at it's best is unplayable in SA conditions but on their day Indian batsmen can chase any score in ODI cricket.

India has 30% chance to win this series but if they win the first match then it will be hard to beat dhoni's team. best of luck to India.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 17:56 GMT)

I am curious on how we analyse the present with the past! Here you got a line up which has arguably much better credentials against the short ball compared to past Indian line-ups. Of course the test by the short - rising - ball may still be pending!! Yet it would be nice if we could really hit the rewind button to know when we really had a pitch prepared where an examination by fire was possible?? We may have a sterner examination by the moving ball (seam/swing) ahead of us & definitely a failure or two on that account. Yet it would behoove all who are sharpening their knives on this account to remember B. Kumar's reputation when the ball does a bit or Shami's debut or the fact that we have a wily old fox like Zak back in the ranks (remember how he's done in premier southpaws!?) Dear @Saud Choudhry let's suss India's chances out based on individual/team merits & demerits. Foaming at the mouth spouting jingoistic vitriol reflects poorly esp if results differ from doomsday predictions

Posted by Tanwar1989 on (December 4, 2013, 17:44 GMT)

its RSA Bowling vs Indian Batting. I am damn sure indian young blood will have a blast..

Posted by ketaann on (December 4, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

it will be big acheivement if india won this series n even if they can avoid 2-0 loss in tests. All the best

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

this time it is different. India is well in form. and all batsmen are scoring runs and full of confidence. while SA is not in good form. Yes they won a series in UAE but i think many will disagree that any other top would not have let go couple of matches like Pakistan did. SA's batting looks shaky. depending too much on ABd & Amla. In bowling, SA are better with steyn in but india has batting which can counter it.

Posted by Temuzin on (December 4, 2013, 17:24 GMT)

very well said Captain Fantastic. Use your resources well. Our batting will click in-spite of doom Sayers. Cant wait for tomorrow to watch the match.

Posted by blthndr on (December 4, 2013, 17:15 GMT)

Mr.monga i think most of the fans are uncertain about the performance of india on this tour...even we are no.1 team still there are some doubts....even de Villiers mentioned greenish pitch with lots of grass with some pace and it can be backfired to them as indian bowlers perform better outside than in this is young team having hunger for success and most importantly their mindset which as u say "will india be prepared for it"...lets see what comes out of box!!!

Posted by smarteee2k on (December 4, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

I suspect the Indian fast bowlers to shine better than our batsmen. All the best Team INDIA

Posted by wapuser on (December 4, 2013, 17:03 GMT)

Hope it will be prepared...Fingers crosses..!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

please dont play Raina and Jadeja. They ate abysmal outside the subcontinent. Bring in Rahane. He has played well on the green pitches at Jaipur during the IPL and CLT. And play 5 bowlers with 4 seamers. Good luck India!

Posted by Dev_Sachinfan on (December 4, 2013, 16:57 GMT)

Rightly said Captain cool...!

Posted by fast_gun on (December 4, 2013, 16:52 GMT)

India will enjoy more support from the crowd than South Africa at first, as people will be at work. Interesting match-ups to take place. India's devastating batsmen vs South africa's fairly decent pace attack.

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South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 26-30, 2013
South Africa won by 10 wickets
South Africa v India at Johannesburg - Dec 18-22, 2013
Match drawn
SAf Invit XI v Indians at Benoni - Dec 13-14, 2013
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
South Africa v India at Centurion - Dec 11, 2013
No result
South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 8, 2013
South Africa won by 134 runs
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