South Africa might have scared India batsmen, says Steyn
Dale Steyn has carried on from where he left off in Johannesburg. This time, though, with words. After bowling a sensational spell of seam and swing against India in the series opener, Steyn has said some of the Indian batsmen were frightened, and that their bowling needs an injection of pace if they are to bother South Africa. India were thrashed by 141 runs at the Wanderers on Thursday, a spicy pitch awaits them at Kingsmead, and Steyn feels there might already be scars that will go beyond the first ODI.
"I would say so," Steyn said when asked if South Africa's bowlers might have frightened the Indian batsmen enough to last them through the remainder of the tour. "I would definitely say so. I didn't see many of our guys walking off the field with bloody fingers or ice packs on ribs, so it definitely was a wake-up call for the Indians. It's not Mumbai where the ball doesn't get higher than the stumps. It's going to be hard to play here.
"But they are not the No. 1 ODI side in the world for no reason. As MS [Dhoni] said in his pre-match [press conference], they have toured the world and have come to South Africa a couple of times, so maybe give them a week or two, one or two more games and they will start getting used to it before the Test matches. But [it was] definitely an eye-opener for them. Because it didn't look like that when they were bowling to us."
While Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli toughed it out against Steyn and the new balls, Steyn was not quite impressed with what followed in the middle order. "I think our intensity the other night really blew them away," Steyn said after the mandatory disclaimer that he expected the visiting batsmen to come back hard. "I think we also showed them that they have a weakness in the middle order. [Suresh] Raina, [R] Ashwin, Yuvraj [Singh], other batters in the end, they didn't really look like they wanted to get in line. So hopefully we can exploit that a little bit more. But they have batters who can play and score. Shikhar's [Dhawan] another guy who can really bat. So we are prepared for that too. Everyone is a target, to be honest with you."
Steyn's summation of Indian bowling wasn't flattering either. When asked what advice he would give to the Indians, he said, "I am really not going to give them any advice, you know. I think they are doing fine.
"If you really want to look at it though, with the ball they lack someone who can really bowl with pace up there. They need that one guy there bowling so. They have got Ishant [Sharma] sitting on the sides, he is the one guy that can bowl over 140kmph. And we have got really good batters like [Jacques] Kallis, [Hashim] Amla, [Quinton] de Kock, [AB] de Villiers in some good space now. I think you need guys who can spin the ball a mile or can bowl quickly.
"Wanderers didn't offer the turn the other night that Ashwin and [Ravindra] Jadeja could have got, but it did offer something off the deck and pace, and they didn't have that the other night. We did have it so we kind of blew them away with that. Morne [Morkel] bowled really quickly, [Ryan] McLaren bowled with good pace, and in good areas, backed up by Wayne [Parnell], myself and Lonwabo [Tsotsobe]. So if you don't have that then you will be struggling in South Africa."
Conditions underfoot promise much of the same. Steyn said he couldn't tell the pitch from the outfield when he had a look at it from the balcony. However, there might be some respite for India because Kingsmead has lost a bit of its pace over the years. "Conditions are always different here in Durban," Steyn said. "Especially different from Johannesburg. Bit more bounce in Jo'burg. This wicket has seemed to have got a little bit flatter, a bit slower over the years."
Steyn, though, was a little circumspect about what lay overhead - it has been overcast in Durban since the teams arrived on Friday. "Hopefully we can get a game because there is a lot of rain around here in Durban," Steyn said. "We discussed it in the morning. We could go out there for 20 overs each, which is a bare minimum and still constitutes as a one-day international. So if there is a bit of rain around, we have to be prepared to face whatever comes."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo