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

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