South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Johannesburg December 5, 2013

No more pushing South Africa around

The terms of India's tour were largely dictated by the BCCI, but South Africa did all the bossing around in the first ODI in Johannesburg

In the months leading up to this tour, South Africa listened to a lot of being told what to do. They were at the mercy of the BCCI for everything from the number of matches to, according to the rumour mill, where they would be played. Now that the cricket has begun, South Africa showed there was one place they will not be dictated to - the field.

One match, even if it was a 141-run thrashing, is not enough to tell whether South Africa can dethrone India from the top of the ODI rankings, and neither is it a solid indication of how their World Cup plans are taking shape, but it was a boost of morale for a country that has been pushed around in the cricket world.

"It was very important to start off like that," South Africa's captain AB de Villiers said, avoiding references to any off-field motivation for a dominating performance. "We know its not easy for subcontinent countries to tour here. It's important to never allow them to gain momentum."

In a hastily organised home series against Pakistan, the schedule had not been planned in a way that would benefit the home side. South Africa won the first Twenty20, a tight finish in a rain-affected game, but lost the next to share the series. Pakistan took a lead in the ODI rubber and did not let it go.

South Africa did not want a repeat against India and so made the most of the opening venue. Johannesburg is not a welcoming host. The Wanderers' bowl-like structure traps noise and creates an atmosphere of intimidation that is unmatched in this country.

South African fans were expected to stage small protests in the ground but apart from a little argy-bargy late in the match, which seemed to have been alcohol fueled, there were only good-natured cheers. The payback was on the pitch, the fastest surface South Africa have played on all summer.

The Wanderers surface was more unwelcoming than its atmosphere. Deliveries kicked up from back from a length and exposed India's weakness against the short ball every time. The first real bouncer of the day - delivered by Morne Morkel - resulted in a wicket. Dale Steyn bowled terrific outswing at terrific pace.

South Africa's six-man pace pack sliced through a line-up that had gunned down immense totals on the subcontinent, but the real insult had been flung in the first innings when South Africa's batsmen, who had struggled against Pakistan, made a mockery of India's bowling.

On the eve of the game, AB de Villiers had talked about how his team would look to assert themselves over India and he had said the visiting bowlers were "not the best in the world." He was a little more generous after the game today. "They are not poor," he said. "They were a little bit short in the first five overs. Not losing a wicket in the first ten overs at the Wanderers is important. That way you set yourself up nicely. It was important for us to have wickets in hand at the end against this Indian attack."

Because of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla's 152-run stand for the first wicket, de Villiers and JP Duminy had the freedom to run riot at the end and not even a green top could stop them. If anything, the ball coming on to the bat helped.

It is unlikely that South Africa have ordered extra spicy pitches for this series because of administrative tussles. It is probably no more than normal service that things panned out the way they did. But that won't stop the country from feeling good, that after all the recent shenanigans, their team was able to get one over India.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muthuvel on December 7, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    SA bowlers especially Steyn and Morkel are just amazing. With Indian bowlers weakness and inexperience it was possible for SA to gamble with a green track, but good for India that ODI series is first so some redemption in tests are possible, more green the better come 2015 they will be prepared. And one more thing SA has chosen to rally against India,i think its time Indian players stopped thinking of them as friends and fought hard, they seem to hate us so use it.

  • Richard on December 7, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    @Ahmad Uetian:- I agree with what cricketsunami said but I'm not sure I agree with your interpretation of same. He's one of the few Indian fans here who can see the problem. While others are suggesting creating pools of fast bowlers as a solution he can see that India needs to start playing SOME of it's home cricket on faster pitches. As it is atm life at home is purgatory for Indian quicks, they don't get any experience using such wickets, and they must absolutely dream of getting a game on at least ONE wicket which doesn't make them feel like walking to the nearest bridge and jumping off. India isn't a fast bowling factory but they do turn up some talent, something just seems to die inside after a couple of years of seeing team mates expend a 1/4 of the effort and get 90% of the wickets. If you think the wickets we served up to you on your last tour of OZ were anything odd you're dreaming. Even Ravi Shastri said during the ODI our wickets were good for batting. We didn't cook them.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    @cricketsunami you r spot on. Indian Bowlers r doing all the worse they can do for the batsmen......................1). Pressure of scoring at 7 rpo from start makes batting even harder 2). Opponents are free to make excessively bouncy and fast pitchs to make indian batsmen life even worse for bcz Indian bowlers cant take adv of horrible track. That is exactly what Aus & SA did to destroy IND in 8 match thrashing 3). Whatever Indian Batsmen score bowlers let opposition score it easily resulting in Indian batsmens' great innings going in vain

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Indian team has woke up to see the reality of cricket outside subcontinent..... ALAS its not IPL

  • uncle bob on December 6, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    Actually Indian batsmen have disadvantage due to their poor pace bowling attack. Opponents are free to make an extra bouncy and fast pitch where Indian batsmen will suffer and Indian bowlers cant pay opponents back in kind. I wonder if SA will make similar pitch against a quality bowling unit such as Pakistan. India seriously needs to find a few good fast bowler and make some real fast and bouncy pitches for their batsmen to get practice before embarking on foreign tours.

  • Par on December 6, 2013, 20:51 GMT

    @biggus, you have raised an imp point there, people may think it is all humor. But Bodyline and early 80s are no match to what we are seeing today. At that point only one person was at risk, the batsman facing the ferocious bowlers. But as you rightly pointed, the balls bowled by battery of indian bowlers are fodder for batsman, hence the paying public is at greater risk of being injured of 6s and even 4s at times. Its about time that the paying public is given mandatory survival gear when india is bowling and then taken away when Steyn comes into attack (as we know, its difficult to connect those deliveries let alone dump one in the crowd!)

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 20:40 GMT

    I think any other team on that pitch against that kind of bowling would've been bowled out under 150 but india reached 200 which is good to see that they fighting it out rather than just capitulating.the main problem of the loss was that our bowlers didn't have the pace required to succed on that pitch which was noticed when south africans bowled as their lesser bowlers(tsotsobe and parnell) struggled bcoz they didn't have the pace of steyn and morkel but if india had played umesh and had dhoni started with shami and umesh it would'vve been a different ball game.umesh might struggle on indian pithces but when he's given this kind of a pitch he can be potent as we saw in the CT warm up game where he bowled australians out for 65 on a not too dissimilar pith than the one at the wanderes.

  • Omar- on December 6, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Indian team is a product of hype and sensationalism only, whereas reality is completely contrary. I am wondering how excellent was Pakistan bowling when they were restricting mighty South Africans to average totals. Moreover the way AB and Duminy plundered Indian bowling. A serious concern for India, it was like treating them like school kids, unbelieveable treatment.

    I wish both the teams good luck for the remaining matches, being a Pakistan cricket fan I would not hesitate to say I also adore fine cricket played by any other nation even India.

  • Jerry on December 6, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    have bouncy pitches .. and see how the Indians can handle pace .. you will win all the matches SA..

  • Shahid on December 6, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    @ BilloBarber: I second your comments and want to add another dimension to it....

    In terms of Win-Loss ratio for 8 major cricketing nations in Test Matches, Pakistan is currently third on the list behind Australia and England...India is way behind ..7th on the list

    In terms of Win-Loss ratio for 8 major cricketing nations in ODI Matches, Pakistan is currently third on the list behind Australia and South Africa...Again India is lagging behind!! 5th on the list

    Currently India is performing better and trying to play more at home to catch up with other teams in terms of overall records... Still a long way to go mate!!

    In this article Firdous has tried to put India's downfall more to the liveness of pitch... I disagree with that.. main problem was India's bowling . If they had restricted them to below 250.. It would have been a close match!!

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