Green pitch, overcast skies await India
Match factsSunday, December 8, 2013
Start time 1000 local (0800GMT)
Big PictureIn their first match on the tour of South Africa in 2006-07, India were bowled out for 91 in a 157-run defeat. Four years later they were blown away for 136 in a thrashing by an innings. On this tour it was the turn of their bowlers to be given a rude welcome. Rude enough for Dale Steyn to surmise that their bowling as it is won't work, and their batsmen were a little frightened. Once again, India find themselves in a familiar situation of trying to salvage the tour. One more similar day, and they will already have lost the ODI series. There is no time for pleasantries on this whistle-stop tour.
There is going to be no let-up in South Africa's intent. During Johannesburg, some commentators wondered why they weren't given similarly quick pitches against Pakistan. They won't have much to complain about here; India have come to a green pitch in Durban, which is hard to distinguish from the square. It is overcast with spells of rain, and is expected to stay so during Sunday too. A tailor couldn't have cut India's task out better.
South Africa, though, won't want to be complacent. They have been in this position before, and have dropped the ball previously too. Against India in 2010-11, they came here jubilant after an innings win, had a somewhat similar pitch and overhead conditions to work with, but were caught out by a rejuvenated India attack that included Zaheer Khan. South Africa have lost a Test here to Sri Lanka, too. Crowd-wise, Durban will be almost a home venue for India. The hosts won't want to give the spectators much to cheer about.
Form guideSouth Africa WWLLW (last five completed games, most recent first)
In the spotlightIn the first ODI Rohit Sharma got a proper working over from Dale Steyn, but the positive aspect was that he didn't back away or play a crazy shot to find release. This is a big tour for Rohit, who seems to have finally turned the corner with the big ODI series against Australia and hundreds in both his first Tests. He will need to show similar grit on the rest of the tour, and it still won't be easy because it will require a lot of technique and patience too.
Dale Steyn gave the India batsmen a bit of a reality check in Johannesburg. It took India 16 Steyn deliveries to lay bat on ball. Forget about scoring quick runs against him, if he is bowling like that. Rohit tried to play him out, Virat Kohli tried to disturb his lengths by taking risks, but nothing worked. If India are given a big target to chase, Steyn in similar form can decide the game in his first spell itself.
Team newsVernon Philander, who tripped a day before the first ODI and injured his shoulder, is fit and available for selection. That can't be good news for India. He would have loved the conditions at the Wanderers, and will here too. He should replace one out of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell in the XI. An injured Imran Tahir is 50-50 for the selection, but an educated guess after looking at the pitch says he will not be needed.
South Africa (likely) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk) 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Vernon Philander, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe/Wayne Parnell
India don't have many quick fixes to their problems. Most of the repair work will have to be done by the same personnel. They could think of bringing in Ajinya Rahane ahead of possibly Yuvraj Singh. Their Test specialists have stayed back in Johannesburg so a slightly drastic step of including Cheteshwar Pujara to bring in solidity has been ruled out. With the ball they might want to bring in a quicker bowler after their first-choice bowlers were found short on pace and menace. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are their options. It will be interesting to see if they go for a fourth quick.
India (likely) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh/Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Umesh Yadav/Ishant Sharma, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohit Sharma
Pitch and conditionsLet Steyn summarise it for you: "I have looked at it from the balcony. Looks exactly like the outfield. I am not going to complain about that. I haven't been down so I don't what it looks like close up." Overhead, it has been mainly overcast. It rained quite a bit two days before the match, and there might be an odd drizzle overnight. An overcast Sunday with 20% chance of rain has been overcast, but you can't really predict weather in South Africa.
Stats and trivia
- India have never won an ODI against South Africa in Durban. Their highest score against the hosts here is 234, the only time they have crossed 200 in six attempts.
- Hashim Amla hasn't enjoyed his home venue much. In four ODIs here, he has managed only 109 runs, which is still better than his Test average of 21 at Kingsmead.
Quotes"I think our intensity the other night really blew them away. I think we also showed them that they have a weakness in the middle order. Raina, Ashwin, Yuvraj, other batters in the end, they didn't really look like they wanted to get in line."
Dale Steyn isn't quite impressed with what India brought to the first match
"I don't think anyone in this Indian team is frightened of anything. We didn't see anyone close their eyes to a bouncer or play rash strokes."
Virat Kohli promises the batsmen will fight hard
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo