India in South Africa 2013-14 December 23, 2013

Can India maintain their intensity?

India's bowlers ran themselves into the ground in their effort to win the Johannesburg Test. In three days' time, they may have to do it all over again
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Playing his first Test in a year, Zaheer Khan bowled 60.3 high-intensity overs at the Wanderers, eight of them in one spell after tea on the final day. That's nine more than he has ever bowled in a Test match. He is 35 now.

Ishant Sharma - say what you will about his bowling and his consistency - bowled 54 overs for his five wickets, his strikes in both innings bringing India back from the brink. He will always run in for his captain, he will always throw himself at the ball, he will always try to get behind the line when batting. That - and not just the lack of options - is why he has played 50 Tests for India.

Mohammed Shami bowled 46 overs. He was the most threatening of the lot, but possibly didn't get as many overs because he was in only his third Test and also needed to stay fresh to stay at his most threatening.

In three days' time, it is quite possible that the same three will be asked to bowl again. If Kingsmead rolls out a greentop, MS Dhoni will have to think twice before putting South Africa in because of this workload. The cost of competing against the best side in the world, and the most resilient one too, in a gruelling Test, has been high. This Test was longer than India's last Test series. India have put in less effort to win series. They must be wondering what else they need to do to beat South Africa in South Africa. Somehow, though, if India can maintain this kind of fitness, intensity and skill while bowling, this cost, or rather their willingness to pay it, might be India's biggest gain from this series.

They needed a spark, which came through Virat Kohli's hundred on the first day, but after a collapse and a strong South African start later, India were staring at a familiar scenario playing itself out: that of not keeping at it long enough in an away Test. The bowlers, though, kept at it. The results came. A lead was secured. In the second dig, the batsmen all but batted South Africa out. They gave the bowlers 135 overs to bowl South Africa out. India hadn't even required the second new ball in the first.

You look at the scorecard and see seven wickets falling in all those overs - two of them run-outs, one an ordinary lbw decision - and you might say it all did return to type. That, though, would be as unjust to India's efforts, and indeed to their skill with the ball, as it would be to South Africa's great will to fight. There wasn't much that India did wrong in that attempt to win. It might be said that had more time been available South Africa would have won this one, but it was India who consciously killed that time off by batting long in their second innings.

If we were to pick nits, that period of batting on the fourth morning when India just batted without direction in order to kill off three hours was when India didn't think straight. Not giving South Africa enough time was all good, but had they gone a little quicker they wouldn't have had to worry about saving the Test in the end. This isn't criticism in hindsight: India drew the match anyway.

When India usually concede 312 for 5 in a day's play, their bowlers and fielders are all over the place. Here they were at the batsmen. Du Plessis will tell you this was not easy.

The bowling itself will be worse on many days and will still bowl teams out. Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers played gems, but questions were asked of them throughout. India have been guilty, in the past, of spreading the fields far and wide in the face of a slight counterattack, but it didn't happen here. Dhoni tried to make sure there was a fielder in place should his bowlers produce the edge. The edges all evaded fielders, though. When India usually concede 312 for 5 in a day's play, their bowlers and fielders are all over the place. Here they were at the batsmen. Du Plessis will tell you this was not easy.

R Ashwin's role will come into question, but he didn't bowl too badly either. Perhaps he should have stuck to his role of holding one end up - his economy rate of 2.3 over 36 overs suggests he did - but when wickets are not falling, you sometimes get desperate. He didn't come too close to getting a wicket, though, and that will concern him. This was the first time he had runs to play with in an away Test. He will be disappointed in that regard, but he wasn't way off the mark with his bowling.

It was only in that final session that signs of tired Indian fingers and shoulders began to appear. Zaheer began bowling short and wide, going for three boundaries in the first three overs of that spell, but bowled an eight-over spell to try to set things right. During this spell he could have had de Villiers lbw, but he himself didn't go up properly. Herein might lie Dhoni's only questionable move of the day. Bowling Zaheer for so long kept Shami away. He was on the field, he was fit, but Dhoni went 34 overs and a tea break without bowling him. Possibly Dhoni didn't trust this inexperienced bowler. Possibly he was waiting for one wicket to fall so he could unleash a fresh bowler who - if he didn't get a couple of wickets - would at least shut the scoring down.

The fielding, though, remained top-notch. Even Zaheer kept diving to save singles. When the run-out opportunity came, India took it. Kohli spoke of that desperation after the draw. "Every single person in this team is hungry to go out there and win a game for their country and their team," he said. "That is the biggest factor that has changed the way we played in the last one year. It is because everyone is hungry and desperate to go out there and perform and win from any situation. That's what this team believes in, that we can win from any situation."

Towards the end, Dhoni had to ask South Africa if they wanted to go for it. Those three overs was the only time India really spread the field - they even bowled one more over than they were required to. Dhoni asked Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn if they wanted to be heroes and risk losing it all. They didn't. Neither side can be blamed considering what was at stake.

There will be obvious disappointment that they couldn't win from this situation, but India made South Africa reach into their deepest reserves in their home conditions after a season during which they hadn't let a single Test reach the fifth day. Both teams will have to pick themselves up pretty fast, India more so than South Africa because there aren't many instances of their bowlers doing well in back-to-back Tests outside Asia.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 25, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    Is the pressure more on SA than on India? Believe lots of questions asked why they didn't go for the kill and win the test game and given Kingsmead not their favourite ground, SAffers need to get out of the mental block and start afresh else risk losing, in my mind!

  • jango_moh on December 25, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    @Greatest_Game .... i wish you had some perspective.... ur so called "best" attack could not take a wicket for a long period in the 2nd innings, and only after india started to attack were you able to get wickets!!! so why do u expect the indian so called "worst" attack to take wickets??? its nice to talk in a vaccum!!!

  • the_blue_android on December 25, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game - Indian team is psychologically broken? That has to be the joke of the year because every three year old kid in India knows that the Indian bowling is very weak and it's hard to win games overseas. This test, it's up to the 'best bowling attack' in the world to deliver. It has been found out that SA bowling is very one dimensional( two feet outside off stump line), they were so out of ideas as soon as the Indian batting started leaving deliveries outside off stump unlike the previous Indian teams. This team doesn't have Sehwag, Sachin, Ganguly, Gambhir to poke outside the off stump line.

    SA win a lot of inconsequential bi-lateral test series to gain # 1 ranking.We all know what happens when SA is under the pump and in the next test,they will certainly be under a lot of pressure.

  • WC96QF on December 25, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Agree with some of the posts here-India dint hv the bowling fire power to take 20 wickets. They shud seriously consider 4 pacer combination with Ashwin. Zaheer is indispensable, Shami has good pace. But bothe prob need a lighter load. If pitch looks like aiding swing, good idea to have Bhuvi and Umesh, give Ishant a break (tho he was good in first test). Trust Ashwin to come good in second test and he's better bat than Ojha or Jadeja.

  • Greatest_Game on December 25, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    All these Indian posters predicting victory, do you know anything about cricket? India just escaped with a draw, & could not bowl out SA in over 4 sessions with a 458 run lead. India were playing a 10 man team & could not take 20 wickets. Get real. India surprised most by punching above their weight, but after being thrashed in the ODIs & demoralised after being saved by the bell, they are psychologically broken. They know they gave everything, did their all, played really really well, but could still not beat the Proteas.

    What will it take for them to win? A 650 run lead? How do they take 20 wickets when SA knuckle down? What else can they do? They did all they could, & it was not nearly enough. Look what happened at home vs Eng. 1 loss & India folded for the series.

    On the other hand, SA played well below their usual level. They know that India can't beat them when they are a man down and playing at 50%. The 1st test woke them up. Now they want blood. Expect it. It won't be pretty!

  • TRAM on December 25, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    @Lodhisingh, yes, I do say Ashwin & RSharma should be dropped. ( at least as a one match punishment). IMO, they should know that if they are not focused in the fielding they will be dropped from the team. Settled Indian players seem to take things for granted. I used to comment against Harbajan, Sehwag, Zaheer etc for the same fielding reason.

    I believe THERE IS WAY TOO MUCH TALENT IN YOUNG INDIA and THERE IS NO NEED TO STICK WITH POOR FIELDERS.

    A poor fielder demoralizes the whole team. India lost 4-0 in Aus/Eng because of awful poor fielding of seniors. You know the result of one Imran Tahir's dropped catch last match.

    Having said all that, I think Dhoni will keep the same team. After all, He has recalled the great Ishant Sharma even after a match reversing 30+ runs an over.

  • on December 25, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Ashwin like HS before him will not be a Kumble abroad. I think INdia had better shot with Jadeja a better fielder or Ojha a better bowler. If Duminy picked wickets even Imran picked wickets and Ashwins was a sorry performance. In such a close match I would blame him for the draw and not winning. He like Sehwag and Gambir is good on dust tracks in asia and not in conditions like SA-sooner the management realizes better for them

  • fguy on December 25, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    remember the next test is just 3 days gap. if we go with same team & we have to bowl 1st then they'll easily make 350+ in 1st innings with the tired bodies that they'll have.

    lets not forget South Africa's fighting draw in Adelaide eventually led to them winning the next Test in Perth so we have to be careful. also here they were complacent thinking that they'd just have to turn up & they'd win so we caught them napping. they're going to come at us strongly

    best team would be Ojha, Bhuvi, Shami, Umesh

  • fguy on December 25, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    as well as they bowled in 1st inngs & as hard as they toiled in the 2nd you have to question Zak & Ishant not being that effective on that pitch which wasnt a dead pitch like the nagpur one againt Eng. fitness of both is also suspect as they were bowling <130 on 5th day. zak then too can get away with that coz he relies more on skills but Ishant is only effective if he hits the deck hard & he doesnt have the excuse of being a 35 yr old. shami was the only one who looked like getting a wicket & dhoni did his usual inexplicable thing of bowling him the least from the 3. also, surprising to see no yorkers from them at any stage. zak coming round the wicket from ball 1 to last is also very strange. the challenging angle of a left armer was gone, he negated the lbw that way & also his footmarks coming over the wicket might've helped ashwin.

  • on December 24, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    India has spent all its intensity. I predict India would lose by an Innings in 2nd Test. Kalis will be a huge star with Bat and Ball. I hope Umpires that favored India in 1st Test stay Neutral. Without DRS they need the best umpires, like Dar, Dharmasena, where are they?

  • on December 25, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    Is the pressure more on SA than on India? Believe lots of questions asked why they didn't go for the kill and win the test game and given Kingsmead not their favourite ground, SAffers need to get out of the mental block and start afresh else risk losing, in my mind!

  • jango_moh on December 25, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    @Greatest_Game .... i wish you had some perspective.... ur so called "best" attack could not take a wicket for a long period in the 2nd innings, and only after india started to attack were you able to get wickets!!! so why do u expect the indian so called "worst" attack to take wickets??? its nice to talk in a vaccum!!!

  • the_blue_android on December 25, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game - Indian team is psychologically broken? That has to be the joke of the year because every three year old kid in India knows that the Indian bowling is very weak and it's hard to win games overseas. This test, it's up to the 'best bowling attack' in the world to deliver. It has been found out that SA bowling is very one dimensional( two feet outside off stump line), they were so out of ideas as soon as the Indian batting started leaving deliveries outside off stump unlike the previous Indian teams. This team doesn't have Sehwag, Sachin, Ganguly, Gambhir to poke outside the off stump line.

    SA win a lot of inconsequential bi-lateral test series to gain # 1 ranking.We all know what happens when SA is under the pump and in the next test,they will certainly be under a lot of pressure.

  • WC96QF on December 25, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Agree with some of the posts here-India dint hv the bowling fire power to take 20 wickets. They shud seriously consider 4 pacer combination with Ashwin. Zaheer is indispensable, Shami has good pace. But bothe prob need a lighter load. If pitch looks like aiding swing, good idea to have Bhuvi and Umesh, give Ishant a break (tho he was good in first test). Trust Ashwin to come good in second test and he's better bat than Ojha or Jadeja.

  • Greatest_Game on December 25, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    All these Indian posters predicting victory, do you know anything about cricket? India just escaped with a draw, & could not bowl out SA in over 4 sessions with a 458 run lead. India were playing a 10 man team & could not take 20 wickets. Get real. India surprised most by punching above their weight, but after being thrashed in the ODIs & demoralised after being saved by the bell, they are psychologically broken. They know they gave everything, did their all, played really really well, but could still not beat the Proteas.

    What will it take for them to win? A 650 run lead? How do they take 20 wickets when SA knuckle down? What else can they do? They did all they could, & it was not nearly enough. Look what happened at home vs Eng. 1 loss & India folded for the series.

    On the other hand, SA played well below their usual level. They know that India can't beat them when they are a man down and playing at 50%. The 1st test woke them up. Now they want blood. Expect it. It won't be pretty!

  • TRAM on December 25, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    @Lodhisingh, yes, I do say Ashwin & RSharma should be dropped. ( at least as a one match punishment). IMO, they should know that if they are not focused in the fielding they will be dropped from the team. Settled Indian players seem to take things for granted. I used to comment against Harbajan, Sehwag, Zaheer etc for the same fielding reason.

    I believe THERE IS WAY TOO MUCH TALENT IN YOUNG INDIA and THERE IS NO NEED TO STICK WITH POOR FIELDERS.

    A poor fielder demoralizes the whole team. India lost 4-0 in Aus/Eng because of awful poor fielding of seniors. You know the result of one Imran Tahir's dropped catch last match.

    Having said all that, I think Dhoni will keep the same team. After all, He has recalled the great Ishant Sharma even after a match reversing 30+ runs an over.

  • on December 25, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Ashwin like HS before him will not be a Kumble abroad. I think INdia had better shot with Jadeja a better fielder or Ojha a better bowler. If Duminy picked wickets even Imran picked wickets and Ashwins was a sorry performance. In such a close match I would blame him for the draw and not winning. He like Sehwag and Gambir is good on dust tracks in asia and not in conditions like SA-sooner the management realizes better for them

  • fguy on December 25, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    remember the next test is just 3 days gap. if we go with same team & we have to bowl 1st then they'll easily make 350+ in 1st innings with the tired bodies that they'll have.

    lets not forget South Africa's fighting draw in Adelaide eventually led to them winning the next Test in Perth so we have to be careful. also here they were complacent thinking that they'd just have to turn up & they'd win so we caught them napping. they're going to come at us strongly

    best team would be Ojha, Bhuvi, Shami, Umesh

  • fguy on December 25, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    as well as they bowled in 1st inngs & as hard as they toiled in the 2nd you have to question Zak & Ishant not being that effective on that pitch which wasnt a dead pitch like the nagpur one againt Eng. fitness of both is also suspect as they were bowling <130 on 5th day. zak then too can get away with that coz he relies more on skills but Ishant is only effective if he hits the deck hard & he doesnt have the excuse of being a 35 yr old. shami was the only one who looked like getting a wicket & dhoni did his usual inexplicable thing of bowling him the least from the 3. also, surprising to see no yorkers from them at any stage. zak coming round the wicket from ball 1 to last is also very strange. the challenging angle of a left armer was gone, he negated the lbw that way & also his footmarks coming over the wicket might've helped ashwin.

  • on December 24, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    India has spent all its intensity. I predict India would lose by an Innings in 2nd Test. Kalis will be a huge star with Bat and Ball. I hope Umpires that favored India in 1st Test stay Neutral. Without DRS they need the best umpires, like Dar, Dharmasena, where are they?

  • Waves239 on December 24, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    Indians put a decent fight against the odds in Wanderers test accepted. The major problem with Indian team winning on fast and bouncy tracks is lack of fourth seam bowling option. India mostly prefer 3(seam) + 1(spin) combination, but assume if one seam bowler has bad day, it puts significant workload on other two. Remember spinner has limited role on this tracks unlike sub-continent one's where one quality spinner may fetch you 4-5 wickets in an innings.

    India always show this obese characteristic of bat deep concept. Having top 6 specialist batsmen + M.S Dhoni why Ashwin straight in the team just because he bats better. Considering 5 of top 6 opp. batting line up comprising right handers Ojha/ Jaddu is wise choice. If team management trusts Ashwin/Jaddu capabilities with bat and feel for extra bowling option Dhoni should be moved to no. 6 and Ashwin/Jaddu take that no. 7 spot.

    My XI: Vijay, Shikar, Pujara, Virat, Rohit, Dhoni, Ashwin/Jaddu, Zaheer, Ishant, Shami, Umesh

  • khansa06 on December 24, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Hard to get Cheteshwar out twice in a series, especially in a 2 match series......so India should win the 2nd test very easily.

  • Savvy-Cricket-Analyst on December 24, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Biggest negative for India is spinner Ashwin's performance. When Kumble was the most successful bowler of India in South Africa, Ashwin has been found to be a total failure. He bowled 6 overs in first innings & some 35 overs in second innings, without taking a single wicket. Even South African spinners have taken a few wickets on the same pitch, which shows how bad Ashwin was. Secondly, if wasted a crucial bowler's spot in the team. I am confident that if Yadav or Bhuvi was selected in place of Ashwin, India would have won the match. India was one bowler short in the last test. No team can win a test match with just three bowlers. As far as spin bowling requirement is concerned, even Rohit Sharma could have bowled those overs of Ashwin with similar, or probably better results.

  • on December 24, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    Why is it so hard for people to admit that ABdV and Faf simply batted unbelievably well on the final day? I don't think the Indian bowlers or MS did much wrong - those two batsmen were simply too good, and with a little bit of luck favouring them (although it also favoured India in the case of Kallis) they showed us why they are the Number One team in the world. At the end of the day, I am sure all the players (except perhaps Dhawan and Rohit) will go back their bed knowing that they played to the best of their abilities. And you can't ask for anything more than that!

  • Sagarneel on December 24, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    People who are complaining of the ineptness of the Indian bowling here, have never heard the term 'heavy roller' or what it does to a wicket. Let's not forget, the seemingly strongest bowling side of the world also ran out of clues to get the Indians out, that too on a fourth day track on which the heavy rollers were not used. There's a world of difference between a fifth day track in India and SA, and although India should have got those 8 wickets, the flatness of the wicket plus the terrific application of Faf and AB were too good for an Indian win. Don't blame the bowlers alone, they exceeded expectations.

  • sidh78 on December 24, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    yes it is disapointing that ind can't win this match but it is moral victory for yong & enexperienced indian team.becoz before the start of the series every one said that SA win by an inning& match will over in 2-3 days by seining the the other sc team last performanaces.but what happen in actual,ind dominate 4.5 days.every one says that indian batsmans not able to score more than total 300 in both innings.but the same indian batsmans score near 750 runs on fast bouncy seaming green pitch againsty the best bowlling attack of the world at their backyard(where many teams can not make even 50 odd runs &other sc team batsman can not stay there)as every one know indian bowling attack is weak but they all out SA below 250.yes last day they not bowl well& not won the match for india but not lost also.abd& duflesi are great players and they saved sa team before against great aus aatack in aus.so they do it against weak ind attack which is not a big thing for them.

  • on December 24, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    i dont know why vijay is playing in the team.atleast instead pf vijay dhoni can bring wasim jaffer because he is the good player in test match.and why rayduh is not getting chance to play to prove himself..and the bowlers are ok but if ojha willl get place into the team11 then it will be much better..

  • Capricorn60 on December 24, 2013, 17:00 GMT

    Unless the Durban track is totally different to that of Jo'burg and that a lone spinner can not only do a containing job but chip with important wickets too, then India can maybe still persist with three frontline seamers - otherwise they definitely need four if they are serious about winning the Durban Test & the series. We saw what happened to Morkel in the last Test & generally it will always be a big risk for India playing only three seamers in Tests outside the subcontinent. Not surprisingly, Zak's performance flagged in the SA 2nd innings when he had to bowl so many overs.

  • Al_Bundy1 on December 24, 2013, 16:30 GMT

    Agree with @Sagarneel - The reason why Ashwin got selected was a 'belief' that he would play the part of an all rounder. I wish they went with Jadeja or Bhuvi. Jadeja would add variety to the bowling, would be a much better batting option, and an even better fielding option.

    In a test match, we need wicket taking bowlers, not bowlers who do a HOLDING job. Whatever it is, for the love of cricket - NO ASHWIN PLEASE!!

  • frozeninusa on December 24, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    India need to play Jadeja in place of Ashwin. He is certainly a better fielder and batsman. The bowling comparison in SA conditions is a wash and Jadeja is equally capable of holding one end and providing a breakthrough. Another change India might want to consider is to bring in either BK or UY depending on the pitch in place of Ishant. Not that Ishant bowled badly but a fresh new bowler might give them some needed energy after the long innings in the last test.

  • CRIC_FAN94 on December 24, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Don't know why people want to drop players after one match,Why do you want to drop Rohit,Ashwin,Ishu etc? In my view they did pretty well or may be ok. Luck didn't favour them,thats it. How many times ball had gone past the edges of pujara and kohli ? Pujara was also dropped at 51 in 2nd innings. And i didnt see any discomfort in the batting of rohit and ashwin,they were really batting well. Rohit shouldn't have thrown his wicket in the first innings and he was unlucky in the second innings. Amla was out for uneven bounce in the second innings,does it make him worst player in the SA batting lineup?should they drop him?And steyn only managed one wicket in this test match,should they drop him?

  • itrock on December 24, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    I think India should play Umesh Yadav and drop Ravichandran Ashwin. Yadav's express pace can definitely build pressure and he should be raring to have a go after a long break. A desperate Dhoni can go for Rohit Sharma for his offies as Ashwin isn't doing any wonders. We need attack rather than HOLDING JOB. Yes, Dhoni could get a fine for slow over rate but this is the closest you can get to register a win in South Africa.

  • HopefulIndianCricFan2 on December 24, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    I agree with most you here. India had a great chance of winning a test match. If side cannot bowl out a team with 140 overs, 450+ target, 4th innings, 5th day pitch then what more do you want. Zak is no longer a penetrative. Ashwin just went through the motions and was never threatening.

    I think Indian team became complacent. They thought the game was in their bag.

  • Sagarneel on December 24, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    The reason why Ashwin got selected was a 'belief' that he would play the part of an allrounder. Having scored a century and getting bucket full of wickets against WI in the previous series, that looked like a logical decision, however, the team management forgot that the match was being played on a non turning Jo'Burg pitch, and not an Indian track where the wicket would favor him. I wish they went with Jadeja or Bhubaneshwar. Jadeja however, would be a wiser pick amongst the two, as he would add variety to the bowling, would be a much better batting option (remember 2 triple tons in the last year!), and an even better fielding option. You don't miss catches of Amla everyday and get away with it, and India were lucky that they did in Jo'burg. Knowing Dhoni, I doubt if there will be a change in the team, however, I sincerely hope, it's Bhuvi if it's a green top, or Jadeja if there's a slight hope of turn. Whatever it is, NO ASHWIN PLEASE! Let him show his magic only on Indian tracks.

  • sixesandfours on December 24, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    @Murali - As supporters of cricket, give credits to the one who is doing and encouragement to do well in domestic and improve the bowling and catching by Ashwin. Dropping catches in each match by Ashwin and with clueless offsin bowling, he is still lot to learn and he talks and delivers less in oversees. Its time for giving opportunities for more deserved Indian talent.

    @Captain_Crick You got it right with your analysis on the team composition since Rohit can bowl off spinners. I think India can afford 4 pacers and Jadeja or 3 pacers and Jadeja keeping 6-4 combination. 1. Shikhar 2. Vijay 3. Pujara 4. Kohli 5&6 Rohit/Rahane/Jadeja 7. Dhoni 8. U.Yadav/Jadeja 9. Zaheer 10. Ishant 11. Shami. All the Best to Cricketers and Fans and God Bless and Merry Christmas to all!!!

  • couchpundit on December 24, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    I am surprised....err may be not why ashwin did not believe he could take a wicket. Not sure why dhoni lacks courage in picking up all seam attack? He need not haven adventurous by taking umesh...he would have been better off with selecting bhuvanesh kumar who would easily get a wicket or two with new ball or hold an end.

    Anyways I felt despite good performance from middle order and Murali Vijay and zaheer khan with bat...India managed to draw a winnable match....one better off than loosing a match.

  • on December 24, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    With 4oo plus on board & 4 sessions remaining in the test. India not able to get S.A is clear indication of Lack of Quality Attack from India. 130 - 135 kph will not India matches. Why not playing all 11 batsman?

  • AvidCricFan on December 24, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    This was a close game. However, I would say India was lucky to not have to face Morkel. He may have made scoring little difficult for the Indian team. On the batting front, only two batsmen clicked. The rest were mediocre. This is the most worrying aspect of the Indian batting going into second test. Hope the performance of Kohli and Pujara, instills confidence in other batmen. I would agree with many about Zak's performance. Most of his wickets in the first innings were the tail. He was ineffective in the second test. His line and length were not the same as what we see in his bowling. Most of the time he was bowling at under 130k speed.

  • Al_Bundy1 on December 24, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    India did well in the first test. Everybody performed except Dhawan, Rohit and Ashwin. Of these 3, Ashwin was the first. He could not take a single wicket. Even Tahir and Duminy got 2 wickets each. The solution is simple - replace Ashwin with Jadeja or Ojha. Maybe play Rahane as an opener and replace Dhawan with Bhuvi.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on December 24, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    30-36 range is typically the male peak years for high endurance activities. What's the big deal about bowling 60 overs at 35?! It's a ripe young age for such tasks. Don't believe me? Google it :)

  • Maverick_26 on December 24, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    I think its fair to say that SA is difficult to beat in their own backyard. IND did a great job putting themselves in a position to actually win it as well. However, as they batted brilliantly in their 2nd innings so did SA. For some reason the pitch didn't deteriorate as much as IND might have expected on the final day. All the talk about the uneven bounce , it stayed pretty much the same as it was on the 3rd day, so don't quite understand some ppl talking about IND batted in the "BEST conditions". Mind you IND opted to BAT first, and even a rookie would know the first session on a first day of test is LETHAL. In summary at present in there is no team which could be crowned as WORLD BEATER in test matches, coz no team is that consistent. That leaves the ICC rankings as the only indicator to judge who is the best.with that logic we have to say SA is the number one test team - "AT PRESENT". However IND in all the 3 formats on avg is easily the strongest team according to ICC rankings.

  • on December 24, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    jadeja will be better spinner than ashwin and batmans too so play jadeja in next game

  • DhairyBoghani on December 24, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Two reason of bad 4th Innings bowling. 1))Bad spin bowling as duminy-tahir both gone for 2-2 wickets each & aswin hadn't take least one. We can believe he hadn't bowled bad but true thing is that he couldn't find a wicket against not so well spin players. # Change him with Jadeja. Better batsman & better bowler according to condition. 2)) Bad use of new ball in both Innings. we produced only 1 wicket between early overs of all 3 new ball.Bad Zaheer who Leaked runs at 4.25/over in 2nd inning & taken only 1 wicket because of bad dicition. #change him with Bhuvi. He always use new ball batter than all others. Try him in atleast 1 away test. He just put out by 1 bad performene in 1st ODI.

  • on December 24, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Ashwin has really struggled in test matches where the pitch does not assist with turn.Duminy was able to get a couple of wickets and there was invariable bounce for spinners as well. if ashwin is playing for his batting skills whats the logic of going in with 3 full time bowlers. Dhoni needs to drop ashwin, I believe he's got more faith in him than even ashwin himself :-)

  • first_slip on December 24, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    Indian team scored 400, but it was when the pitch was at it's best for batting,against 2 bowlers basically. and SA without their best bowler on such conditions, by the way guys tell me how many times India won out of their last 8 tests out side sub continent ? and how many times they reached 400 in those 18 innings? scoring 400 just once out of 18 innings out side sub continent doesnt make you world beaters.and they could not finish off SA in second innings even with help of condition,poor umpiring and as usual with lot of luck. merry X'Mas all.

  • on December 24, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Why is no one giving any credit to Dhoni? Wicket keeping is a back breaking job and he did it without any problems, apart from even bowling a few overs, as well as batting pretty well in both the innings. Plus he was also his calm self as the captain. if not for his calm self, India could well have lost the match in the last few overs. Another suggestion to Dhoni and Fletcher. Drop both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. Play Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav. They will add to the bowling strength plus at least all of them put together will definitely score more than these two put together.

  • on December 24, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    yes, Fletcher should get credit for this amazing draw, along with captain & the team

  • on December 24, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Axing Ashwin would be a crime. His capabilities as a batsmen simply cant be over looked, especially in SAF where a top order collapse is a possibility. Lets face it, Dhoni never likes tinkering with the playing XI (why else is Ishant still in the team?).

    And all those who want RJ in the team, he cant bat in SAF condidtions. Except for a decent knock in Champions Trophy final, he has hardly scored anything with the bat overseas.

    My gut feeling is DHoni wont change the playing XI unless there are any fitness issues.

  • SamRoy on December 24, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Terrible spells from ashwin, zak and Ishant on last day, no threat whatsoever. Also need to drop ashwin, zak and Ishant and bring in bhuvi, umesh and jaddu for next test. Ishant and zak will be tired and India definitely need fresh legs to take the workload. This is what I said on 1st day of 1st test "with one Shami and a half Khan, no probability of getting 20 protea wkts, has Ishant not failed enough?" was I too far off the mark?

  • MaruthuDelft on December 24, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Ashwin doesn't pack zip into his deliveries. See Nathan Lyon; once he releases the ball it moves towards the batsman like a viper. Ashwin must be dropped. He should give up bowling. He is not sufficiently built. He is not strong. Go back to Ranji. Score runs to get back to tests as a batsman. But he must not be allowed to continue as a batsman because it equates to back door entry. It is unfair to other Indian batsman like Kartik, Bhadri and that Kolkatta batsman.

  • loks07 on December 24, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    I only wish Rohit is replaced by Jadeja, Ashwin by Amit Mishra/Rasool and Ishant by Bhuvi/Rishi Dhawan. And Dhoni's mind by Ganguly's :)

  • optimiser on December 24, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    Now that title is itself a million dollar question. And in my view I dont think they can. This was clearly evident on the last day where they couldn't pick up a single wicket for an entire session & its very important to win session-wise in a test match. Apart from that batsmen apart from kohli, pujara & to some extent vijay are largely untested. dhawan, rohit & dhoni seemed all at sea. So patience is key from the young brigade which was lacking in previous matches. Very difficult to counter the south african attack which is going to come all guns blazing since this is the last match

  • Johnny_129 on December 24, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    In the past Indian teams would get dejected in such situations (not being able to complete the win) and drop their heads. If you look at the Australian psyche, they come out really determined when things like this happen. India should take heart from the first match and show real determination. I like the thought of a few others on this site - Add another bowler to the team at the expense of Rohit - BK, Yadav or Jadeja. Ashwin is a very good bowler but he is still learning to bowl on foreign soil - He's bowling became a nullity in the last test, leaving the three pacies too much to do. Add another pacie or a second spinner.

  • ramli on December 24, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    Steyn went wicketless in Indian 2nd innings ... does that make him a lesser bowler than anybody? ... Ashwin held one-end up well ... it would have helped if he had broken a partnership or two ... bowlers have to be given a decent run to judge them as ineffective ... one test is too short for that ... Ashwin would add value as a batsman too ... it is another thing if India opts for a 4th pacer in Durban

  • on December 24, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    I think the very important point that we are missing is that South Africans were one bowler short in the second innings and that will not be the case in the Durban so Indian batsman have to take the responsibility and perform well like they did in the first test match.Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit sharma have to pull up their socks and avoid the mistakes that did especially Shikhar Dhawan with his aggressive approach.As far as Bowling is concerned the Indian fast bowlers have done a good job.Their is a cause of concern as we have to go with 5 bowlers or 4 bowlers as some people have suggestion of going with 5 bowlers(4 Pacers and 1 Spinner).i think they should go with 4 bowlers with Ojha as a spinner.Thank you.

  • srinideva on December 24, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    This is fun to read some of the comments. Jadeja is better than Ashwin. Are you kidding me? I can agree he can control the Run flow better than Ashwin. But he is no where close to ashwin. He can`t flight the ball. Jadeja have two kind of deliveries in his bank. one is leg spin and the other arm ball. He can`t survive with it. Need more flight to create some doubt in batsman mind in this kind of surface.

  • Seether1 on December 24, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    India played out of their skins and deservedly earned themselves a draw. However I feel that SA have yet to shift into top gear. India have already showed their hand and this is as good as it gets for them. Similar to Australia in Adelaide last year who played their hearts out. They had nothing left in the tank for Perth and were duly smashed. Sadly I expect the same thing to happen to India.

  • ooper_cut on December 24, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    Drop Rohit Sharma and get Umesh Yadav in, show some intent Captain.

  • on December 24, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Try to bat 2nd...as india good in chasing .....plus ist day green putch will help seamers

  • on December 24, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Drop ashwin bring bunishwer kumar at kinsmead.....dhoni and virat will do part time bowling

  • rahulStillHeaded on December 24, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    Very nice article Sidharth. Gives a very nice perspective. I too admire the fact that Indian bowlers were always on stumps. Infact, they had a definite plan against Kallis and kept bowling overpitched deliveries. It didn't work and he ended up making a very fast 30's.

    I feel India should go ahead and play 5 bowlers. It is a risk but it will help us in the future. Since SA has a lot of right handers, left arm spin will be much more effective because of the angle. So Jadeja/Ohja might come. We can drop Rohit and play Umesh.

    If one of the bowlers is not fit then he can be replaced by Bhuvi.

    And how impressive was Shami's intensity. It was like he wanted to win this match for India !!! So nice to see.

    Most importantly India needs to develop a very sound slip cordon. Even with the catches they took there was no finishing. Look at the finishing when Australia take slip catches !! This will take time but the work has to start immediately.

  • chapathishot on December 24, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    When India did really badly in England and Australia Fletcher was blamed ,so he should get some credit when they do well also.

  • on December 24, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    @Rajeshj "If Ashwin goes wicketless he is called a lesser-skilled bowler.."

    The reasons why many are raising questions on Ashwin's effectviteness is because of his over seas record. Of all his wickets, only 9 has come abroad. Also the problem with Ashwin in this test match was he never looked dangerous, even once. He never looked like taking wickets.

    I think, in recent home tests, Jadeja has proved more effective than Ashwin and scalped crucial wickets at crucial times. Jadeja i a better fielder and as good or bad a batsman as Ashwin. If I were Dhoni I would go for him in Durban

    I

  • on December 24, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    I see many who are calling for Ashwin to be dropped. Even I think that a left arm spinner would have been a better option in the Wanderers match- possibly the difference between winning or losing. But Ashwin is a better Test batsman than Jadeja, a better player of the short ball. and India needs a good bat at No 8. Jadeja for all his three triples is suspect against fast bowling. And lets remember the Harbhajan spell at Durban last time! One complaint though. For a modern off spinner, Ashwin does not have the flipper!

  • on December 24, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    if india is going without a thread fast bowler apart from shami,ishant,zaheer.., india doesnt have any chance to get the next world cup.

    One real fast bowler who can bowl around 150 speed. like varun aron.

  • on December 24, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    India did exceptionally well on day 5 - in terms of field placements, aggressive bowling and captaincy. If we had a bowler who can bowl at 150kmph like Johnson, it may have made a difference. In Ashwin's defence, I think he bowled very well. Spinners have not done well at the Wanderers (ask Saeed Ajmal). His main role was to hold one end up. The pitch didn't offer any turn or bounce for him. My only disappointments in the test were Dhawan & Rohit in the 1st innings where I felt they played poor shots to get out. The rest showed tremendous application and skill. I would go with the same XI for Kingsmead.

  • on December 24, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    out of context , but Vijay is due for a big one here for all the effort he has done in 1st match..rahane is due for one 50+ score, shami is due for one five for ... just watch out..... I might be wrong...

  • Paddhu72 on December 24, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    I feel India can go for another Pacer in Umesh who has got a good pace which will be so handy to spread the workload . This will definitely give Zak ,Shami and Ishant to keep themselves afresh till the end . And it is truly amazing to see Zak after a long time bowling with such a control and I wish him not to get again into the vicious circle of injuries due to over work.

  • heathrf1974 on December 24, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    One thing Indian fans need to consider is that out of their batting, only Pujara and Kohli performed well. If the Saffers get them cheaply during the next test, who will step up for India? I'm not saying they won't, but there are still some things to sort out. For the Saffers it is the career of Kallis and fitness of Morkel that is of concern and maybe dropping Tahir for the more consistent Robin Peterson.

  • Captain_Crick on December 24, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    1) Shikar 2) Vijay 3) Pujara 4) Kohli 5) Rohit 6) Rahane 7) Dhoni 8) Bhuvi/Jadeja 9) Zaheer 10) Ishant 11) Shami

  • on December 24, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    @Gerry_the_Merry ; agree on dhawan, he is a type of player who performs once in blue moon, he has no patience to be successful on test cricket.... unfortunately he will be in team for.a while only on the basis of that 187 he scored against Aussie.... opening with rahane or Rohit might not be bad idea along with Vijay...

  • on December 24, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    I think nobody should blame ashwin, we all know he is very good bowler when the conditions are in favour, ajmal was clobbered at the economy of nearly 4 on this same track, if we see that ashwin did pretty well in holding job, but why do we need to have a specialist spinner doing holding job??? that does more damage to this stats, average, strike rate, and even for his confidence.... we can leave that job to the part timers, we have a cluster of part timers in this team, dhawan, Vijay, kohli, Rohit can each share 4 overs each.... all I am saying is protect your main spinner from unhelpful condition, use your best pacers to bowl on helpful conditions..... why can't we use this strategy???? if I was selector I would have picked only jadeja and I would have given ashwin and ojah a match practice in ranaji.... in place of these two spinners I would have picked extra 2pacers.... protecting you players from being exposed is the main thing which India never did.....

  • GRVJPR on December 24, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    I think the wicket was ordinary in 1st test. What can you say about a test wicket that does not deteriorate even on 5th day. There was nothing special about AB and Faf's batting on that pitch on last day. In India these two batsmen wouldn't have survived turing bouncy spinning ball for mopre than 5 balls as their record also suggests. Overrated batsmen.

  • Rahul_78 on December 24, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Anyone who saw the last day should not and would not blame Indian bowlers or skipper MSD. They gave it everything and more for the task. The bowlers line and length did not waver neither their speed dropped alarmingly. Credit should be given where it is due and AB and Faf were exceptional. Many deliveries that took off from good length could have gone to any of the fielders hand on other day but you also have to appreciate the batsmen and their technic that made sure the balls eluded the fielder. Zack, Shami and Ishant would get 10 on 10 for the efforts. It was just not suppose to be their day. Bit disappointed with Ashwin. It was a 5th day pitch with invariable bounce and batsmen were cautious of it. If he had managed couple of wickets then India would have got home. I may be wrong but Jadeja might have done a better job on that pitch with his accuracy, pace and ability to take the ball away from right handers. On pitch with invariable bounce Jadeja makes for better option then Ashwin

  • on December 24, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    nothing to worry about fitness, ishant is fit, he played nearly 50 tests already( he is yet to celebrate his 26th birthday I guess), he may not be best bowler, but he is as fit as any other bowler from SA or pak.... regarding shami, he is naturally fit, and zaheer should take some rest.... but what I fail to understand is, why do Indian team always have 3-1 bowling attack??? is playing spinner overseas that much necessary? if it's just to hold one end, why can't virat ans Rohit do the job??? why can't we add in extra.pacer in place of spinner??? May be yadhav, he gets good reverse swing he has pace... I would day rest.ashwin and Rohit, play yadhav for ashwin and JADEJA for Rohit....

  • Sir_Ivor on December 24, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    The Kingsmead wicket usually is a sporting one and helps both pace and spin Bhuvi should be useful there if it is a pacy wicket. But I am not sure if it will be a green top there because South Africans have seen that India's pace bowlers are not dummies.The other crucial thing is that the South Africans seem to have become quite comfortable with off spin bowling having played so much against Ashwin in the IPL and against Ajmal for almost one year now in various formats of the game.Good flighted left arm spin seems a better bet against them.Ojha has done very well in recent matches flighting the ball and bowling a bit quicker in the air also.That would make him an good choice for the Durban game.Flight and drift is what will matter against the Saffas.,If Jadeja or Ojha play it should be in place of Ashwin.I wish Dhoni would use Rohit Sharma'a off spin also.Lastly,nothing is being said about the error when De Villiers was given not out lbw at a crucial stage of the game when he was out.

  • on December 24, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Even though the First Test ended in a draw, it created so much interest on the current series and confirms that the Test Cricket is going to stay for at least another decade. Now both Teams have to regroup and find out their weaknesses and come out better in the Second Test. For India, I think they will bring Ravindra Jadega in place of Rahane (very sad for him) to give another spinning opportunity. This also will help Dhoni to rotate his bowlers better. I think India could have won the First Test if Jadega played. On the batting front, I think there is no change is required in the top five since they select themselves.

  • dganger on December 24, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    I think Umesh Yadav should be in the team along with the other 4 bowlers, if it means dropping a batsman so be it. India definitely need at least one pair of fresh legs to take the workload. Its a tricky situation as the Indian fast bowlers r typical tail enders and easy wickets to grab. It means if the top order fails it will be almost impossible to post a competitive score. I wont mind dropping Rohit, lil unfair on him perhaps, but looking at his confidence so far in South Africa i doubt how much he will be able to contribute in the last test.

  • Rajeshj on December 24, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    The author is not aware of the fact that Saeed Ajmal also bowled on the same Johannesburg pitch in February 2013 and ended up with match figures of 1 for 145 from 41 overs.. Compared to that Ashwin's figures of 0 for 108 from 42 overs is not too bad.. In fact, it can be said that he bowled with greater control than Ajmal, if you go by the stats.. Why is this not being understood by all and criticize Ashwin endlessly??.. If Ajmal goes wicketless, we say the pitch is like that.. If Ashwin goes wicketless he is called a lesser-skilled bowler.. And I don't buy the argument that Jadeja/Ojha would have bowled better on this pitch than Ashwin.. We just don't understand and give respect to the talent that we have with us.. By the way, why is no one commenting on the poor performances of Dhawan/Rohit in the match..

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 24, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Management must drop Dhawan, who is totally clueless, besides being a poor fielder, and has a first class average 20 less than Rahane and Pujara, and is basically a puffed up T20 player, and bring in Yadav for his pace and strike power, and shuffle the batting order around - perhaps make Rohit Sharma the opener. Basically Ashwin is a better batsman than Dhawan and should be retained in a batsman / spinner role like Ravi Shastri.

  • naren1983 on December 24, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    India will maintain their intensity and increases further to win the series first time in SA. On considering Ashwin's place, Why not India try Jadeja in place of Ashwin. Because now-a-days selecting Ashwin in Overseas by not just his bowling also considering his batting. Mostly Durban Pitch will not suit spinners like Ashwin who bowls flight deliveries, top spin. Dhoni should look out for Jadeja, since he can bowl stump to stump and get few LBWs and slight deviations look slip fielders interesting, also he can bat decently like Ashwin. My Call will be Jadeja. And there should be any change for rest.

  • on December 24, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    "There is nothing to be blame to indian bowlers as they bowl their heart out"

    The world knows that South africa is No.1 team in test because of their ability to bat in 2nd innings. They bat long and score at a quict rate in 2nd inning.

    The biggest culprit of the match was those 2 drop catches of smith and philander in first innings and that cause India near about 100 runs.. and then again smith was dropped in 2nd inn when he was on 0 and went on to make 44...

    Indian fielders are good but don't come up to expectations when the opportunity comes their way.....

    It was rahane who saved the match and if he gets dropped ahead of rohit sharma then it will the most injusticeous decision ever to be taken by MSD

  • on December 24, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    Its has been observed that Ashwin is only doing well in Sub continent pitches (Test). for second test match we can take Bhuvi in place of ashwin. Four Pace bowlers will be a very good combination. Pujara is having a additional skill of bowling leg spin. Meanwhile we can use him as a part time along with kohli. This would be perfect for bowling departement. My bowling team would be 1.Zaheer Khan 2. Ishant Sharma 3. Mohd.Shami 4. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Dhawan should stay for a long time on the wicket just like what Vijay has done in the 2nd innings. Rohit was again no hit. Its all depends upon our bastmens. Our bowling departement except ashwin have threatened the southafrican bastmens.

  • humdrum on December 24, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    If Durban is revealed to be an absolute green top,India has to go with a minimum of 4 seamers,and I daresay,go for broke and play both Yadav and Kumar alongside the trio which played at the Wanderers.Getting SA wickets should be the top priority for Dhoni and if either Dhawan or Rohit Sharma has to make way (alongwith Ashwin ) so be it.The batsmen in form have to put the runs on the board,and in any case,a green top will give a low scoring match. India needs its pacers to stay fresh and at the proteas all day,to have a realistic chance of winning.

  • sixesandfours on December 24, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Yes India Key Bowlers are tired, but enough rest and preparation for next few days will be enough for professional players. India should think keeping 4 pacers by including Yadav with 1st test 3 bowlers and replace Ashwin with Jadeja. PLaying XI should be - 1. Shikhar 2. Vijay 3. Pujara 4. Kohli 5&6 Rohit/Rahane/Jadeja 7. Dhoni 8. U.Yadav 9. Zaheer 10. Ishant 11. Shami. All the Best to Cricketers and Fans and God Bless and Merry Christmas to all!!!

  • Lodhisingh on December 24, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    @ TRAM, drop rohit? seriously? the guy scored 2 100s in his first 2 tests in difficult situations. give him a break.

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 24, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    At last, Indian cricket is showing some signs of moving away from personality and adulation mindset towards a winning mindset. We havent started winning, but now there is hope that when we travel abroad, we wont be humiliated 8-0.

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 24, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    NAH ! They should be okay. Instead, SA should check on their bowlers - Steyn, Philander and Morkel. They are the ones that would be disillusioned and shocked by the superb performance of the Indian middle order. Everybody, including members of the Indian media expected SA to roll over India in 3 days. But India showed why they could become the next no.1 test side in world cricket. I know that's a far cry but India have all the right ingredients. Zaheer has worked a lot on his fitness the last 2 years. There is NO WAY he would break down at this point because if he does, that's BYE BYE ZAK. Ishant too has to be now groomed as an overseas bowler because his confidence takes a battering in Indian conditions. So I am sure they are up and ready for the Boxing Day test in Durban. It will be a cracker.

  • CurrentPresident on December 24, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    I don't think the current Indian bowling attack will succeed in the second test. They were found out in the second innings after the initial surprise.

    Dhoni should bring in fresh Bhuvi and Yadav for Ishant and Shami and Jadeja for Rohit Sharma. But knowing him and the Indian mentality - the current team will persist and will again be unable to take 20 wickets.

  • bornon22november on December 24, 2013, 2:35 GMT

    It'd have been great had the Indians pulled it off. We should give them thr credit for playing such competitive cricket which took them on the verge of a great victory.

  • on December 24, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    Ofcourse they will. Just would like a bit more from the openers though. of india's git to win the next test they wil have to score some runs. And i would want to give jadeja an opportunity for the next test he can be better than ashwin over seas just like kumble. As far as bowling is concerned i would not risk bringing bhuvi in for zak. bhuvi bowls extremely in the first few ovwr when the ball is swinging but bowls like crap when its old. So if a batman manages to see off bhuvi he is no longer a threat becuase he cant swing the ball nor reverse it.

  • on December 24, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    Well, We have to wait and see !

  • on December 24, 2013, 1:31 GMT

    Bhuvi should come in for Ashwin and Jadeja for Sharma although they would be a batsman light the last test proved how resilient their bowlers and top order were. If bhuvi can swing the ball well in India surely in these conditions he would be devastating even to players like AB and Amla.

  • spinkingKK on December 24, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Usually, I am a supporter of Zaheer Khan. But, that 8 over spell after tea he bowled was one of the worst medium pace bowling I have seen in recent times. I can't understand why the author thinks all the 3 bowlers should ball in the next test. If I am the captain and if that bowling after tea was not because I have instructed him to do so, I will drop him for good. Umesh Yadav is a far better bowler and batsman. Only thing is he is another right armer. But, if you have no other choice, I will pick him over Zak, anyday.

  • parvinder7 on December 24, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    can sum indian fan tell me did india drop catches in south africa's 2nd innings. I am really hurt by the way south africa nearly won, chasing 458. The groundsman at the wanderers must hav done sumthing to this pitch. South africa hav never done this at home before. A 5th day pitch in south africa, i cant believe it. The change i would make for durban is drop rohit sharma or rahane for jadeja. Or tell the players rahane at 5 and sharma at 6. Everyone says we play for the team, no words but action. Sharma is new to test cricket he made 2 hundreds at no6. If rahane cant play at no5 then jadeja. I would prefer a bowler who can make more than 30 and bowl me 30 overs in a innings. India is not a team, they dont know how to win a test. A team is when a player says to the captain or coach, drop me for someone better at that time. It could be for only 1 test. Thats a team, making sacrifices for each other. Dhoni has built this environment that he will bring in his mate for someone else.

  • ProdigyA on December 24, 2013, 1:21 GMT

    Very very happy with the way the fast bowlers performed for India. The question remains about Ashwin, shocking that he could not even pick up a single wicket when even JP got a couple. MS should seriously consider including Jadeja for Ashwin.

    Also was surprised why MS did not use Rohit at least for a few overs to see what he can offer. This is where I feel MS can be really stubborn with his tactics.

  • SnowSnake on December 24, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    I hope they have a green top and India gets Bhuvi instead of Ashwin. That would be nice. Let's hope that Morkel is fit as well because then we will have another good test. I think Dhoni's best days are over. He has not done anything either in ODIs or Tests for a while.

  • the_blue_android on December 24, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    We all know the batsmen will, but the bowlers I doubt they have the skill and intensity.

  • on December 23, 2013, 23:53 GMT

    I have been checking the domestic match between Vidarbha and Jharkhand. We are waiting for the arrival of Varun Aaron. Not only Varun is quick who hit 153kph in one of the matches but is also has control and accurate. His List-A eco rate is 4.83 as compared to Shami's 5.1, we expect his average pace to be about 88 mph and is about 1-2 mph quicker. We would like to select him for the Ind-NZ series in India as a starter after the injury and rehab.

    Yadav's pace is 88mph in Aus/SA conditions but his eco rate in ODI is about 6.1 as compared to Ishant's 5.66 and 5.39 for Shami's in ODIs. We would like for all the bowlers to go to France like Zak did for weight and fitness conditioning or invited the coach to invite him here in India.

  • on December 23, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    Ashwin cannot be dropped after just one bad match.Also, since he is front line spinner for India, he will still inspire more confidence in Captain's mind. I think side will stay same as long as everybody is fit.

  • Bonehead_maz on December 23, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    When have set a side 458 to win on a pitch with cracks all over it, only one over more than required is disappointing ? Being in anyway defensive is disappointing ? To put this in context, in 1948 at Leeds, England bowled 114 overs in well less than a day when defending the then world record of 404 to lose. Any team not confident of defending 458 has serious self doubt ? @ Tommy. Although what you say is totally correct, Australia were a bowler short (Pattinson injured during Adelaide first innings) which made things much worse for them, than India's current position.

  • on December 23, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    Its not the 1st time South Africa have played for a draw and batted for very long periods insteadof pushing for a win. Did the same thing in Australia and England. This is Test Cricket, the ultimate test of a cricketers human worth and skill. This group of South Africans is very experienced and understand how to win a series(hell they been doing it for years without opposition)... The trick is to tire your oposition so much they cant get out of bed for next match. whatever left of the opposition in your next match you make a mockery of and win the series. Watch this scenaria play itself out in Durban. SOUTH AFRICANS FITNESS LEVELS WONT BE AN ISSUE(BATTED LAST)

  • OldCricketer on December 23, 2013, 23:08 GMT

    Maintaining intensity throughout the day would be asking for more stamina from three pace bowlers. Including Umesh Yadav as another pace bowler would be a better idea, even it means dropping one batsman from the middle order. Had Umesh Yadav been there on the last day, India would have taken some more wickets. Experts suggested this move too.

  • Naresh28 on December 23, 2013, 22:59 GMT

    India should test the following players on a A-team trip and see how they go:- KL Rahul, H Kadiwale, Jiwonjot Singh, Manpreet Juneja, Rishi Dhawan, Aparajith, A Nayer, Aaron, pankaj Singh, Vijaykumar, N Ohja, Jalaj Saxena. We need better fielders as dropped catches are heart breakers for toiling bowlers.

  • on December 23, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Retrospectively, how crucial were those couple of sixes by Zak off Steyn. Boy, Zak is back with vengeance, clearly !! Welcome back Zak !

  • on December 23, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    Guys Guys Guys wait for a second before pin pointing the mistakes of Dhoni, finding faults in Ashwin and Rohit. How many of us thought that India would come so close of winning this test match before the test began ? Or did we believe India would survive the best bowling attack in the world for more than 2.5 or 3 days and that too at their home, in conditions which are so helpful for the bowlers ? Give credit to the Indian team for putting up such a great fight. The best side in the world looked like the second best in the whole test match apart from day 5. Feel proud of the team and support them.

  • on December 23, 2013, 22:26 GMT

    Keep Rahane and Ashwin out...instead play with Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar....latter is a more balanced combination... with 4 pace bowlers and Jadeja contributing with his spin (therefore 5 bowlers) and in the middle order he can also contribute for 20-30 odd runs...

  • ToTellUTheTruth on December 23, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    Those who are asking for Ashwin's head, will do well to know that he did, indeed bowled well. When you are the only spinner and with the turn and bounce he is getting, it is obvious that batsmen pay special attention to you. I sincerely think, RJ might have made a difference in this test along with Ash. Both of them (or either Ojha for that matter) bowling together would certainly have made a difference. Wonder why Dhoni did not trust Rohit Sharma's offspin! Afterall, he did get some wickets bowling for India A in recent times!!! Another spinner from the other end would have make the difference for Ash.

  • glen1 on December 23, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    The agenda at Durban should be to win with whatever it takes. The current bowling unit, despite its first innings performance, could not take twenty wickets. With the test starting in two days, there is a need for surprise (Ojha) and consistent bowlers (Bhuvi), without tired legs (Zaheer, Ishanth?). Otherwise, this match is lost before it begins.

  • SanjivAwesome on December 23, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    This lot of India bowlers failed to take 20 wickets. So might as well try some fresh blood through one or two of Bhuvi, Yadav and Jadeja. That way there will be fresh legs for another 5-day marathon event!

  • Al_Bundy1 on December 23, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Agree with @TRAM - Ashwin and Rsharma failed in their departments. More importantly they dropped catches and hence should be dropped. Bhuvi and Ohja / RJadeja should be the replacements

    Bhuvi with new ball in test-match fielding setup would be the deadliest bowler among India bowlers. He did so even in India conditions.

  • on December 23, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    Jadeja bowls at a quicker pace, is the best in taking advantage of the natural variation available on the track. Think he should come in for Ashwin.

  • TRAM on December 23, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    Ashwin and Rsharma failed in their departments. More importantly they dropped catches and hence should be dropped.

    The replacement should be Bhuvi and Ohja / RJadeja.

    Bhuvi with new ball in test-match fielding setup would be the deadliest bowler among India bowlers. He did so even in India conditions.

    I wonder why cant Bhuvi learn the reverse swinging from Shami.

    I see cricinfo says Pujara has additional skill of leg spin bowling. Can Dhoni try his leg spin??

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 23, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    We saw this in Australia. When Faff batted for a day and half, the Australian quick bowlers were bowled into the ground. Peter Siddle could hardly stand at the end of the match. The Perth Test, like the Durban test was a few days later.

    The Aussie bowlers failed fitness tests and SA batsmen put their 2nd string bowlers to the sword and won.

    The big question is. How fit is Zahir and Ishant for the next test match and will they break down??

  • glen1 on December 23, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Well each of these bowlers: Zahir, Ishanth, and Shami in that order need to ask fitness questions of their bodies and report if they are not 100% for the test in two days. The team can then play Bhuvi and or Yadav as the case may be. The team management should ask whether Ojha would be a better replacement for Ashwin, and whether Rohit should be replaced by Jadega.

  • bhushanB on December 23, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    I felt that Dhoni should have bowled Shami for at least a 3 over spell in between... especially when Zaheer gave some easy boundaries.... It may not have come that close without those

  • on December 23, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    I would like to see more aggression from ZAK in the 2nd test as Steyn and Johnson because he has lots of experience , should lead the attack and get 20 wickets of SAF and win the match for India...

    Jadeja should replace Ashwin in the next match...

  • on December 23, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Well if India do succeed in bowling well, we are in for another cracker of a test match and with more at stake than the last. Evenly matched tests and way more exciting than any one sided ODIs.

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  • on December 23, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Well if India do succeed in bowling well, we are in for another cracker of a test match and with more at stake than the last. Evenly matched tests and way more exciting than any one sided ODIs.

  • on December 23, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    I would like to see more aggression from ZAK in the 2nd test as Steyn and Johnson because he has lots of experience , should lead the attack and get 20 wickets of SAF and win the match for India...

    Jadeja should replace Ashwin in the next match...

  • bhushanB on December 23, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    I felt that Dhoni should have bowled Shami for at least a 3 over spell in between... especially when Zaheer gave some easy boundaries.... It may not have come that close without those

  • glen1 on December 23, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Well each of these bowlers: Zahir, Ishanth, and Shami in that order need to ask fitness questions of their bodies and report if they are not 100% for the test in two days. The team can then play Bhuvi and or Yadav as the case may be. The team management should ask whether Ojha would be a better replacement for Ashwin, and whether Rohit should be replaced by Jadega.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 23, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    We saw this in Australia. When Faff batted for a day and half, the Australian quick bowlers were bowled into the ground. Peter Siddle could hardly stand at the end of the match. The Perth Test, like the Durban test was a few days later.

    The Aussie bowlers failed fitness tests and SA batsmen put their 2nd string bowlers to the sword and won.

    The big question is. How fit is Zahir and Ishant for the next test match and will they break down??

  • TRAM on December 23, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    Ashwin and Rsharma failed in their departments. More importantly they dropped catches and hence should be dropped.

    The replacement should be Bhuvi and Ohja / RJadeja.

    Bhuvi with new ball in test-match fielding setup would be the deadliest bowler among India bowlers. He did so even in India conditions.

    I wonder why cant Bhuvi learn the reverse swinging from Shami.

    I see cricinfo says Pujara has additional skill of leg spin bowling. Can Dhoni try his leg spin??

  • on December 23, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    Jadeja bowls at a quicker pace, is the best in taking advantage of the natural variation available on the track. Think he should come in for Ashwin.

  • Al_Bundy1 on December 23, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Agree with @TRAM - Ashwin and Rsharma failed in their departments. More importantly they dropped catches and hence should be dropped. Bhuvi and Ohja / RJadeja should be the replacements

    Bhuvi with new ball in test-match fielding setup would be the deadliest bowler among India bowlers. He did so even in India conditions.

  • SanjivAwesome on December 23, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    This lot of India bowlers failed to take 20 wickets. So might as well try some fresh blood through one or two of Bhuvi, Yadav and Jadeja. That way there will be fresh legs for another 5-day marathon event!

  • glen1 on December 23, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    The agenda at Durban should be to win with whatever it takes. The current bowling unit, despite its first innings performance, could not take twenty wickets. With the test starting in two days, there is a need for surprise (Ojha) and consistent bowlers (Bhuvi), without tired legs (Zaheer, Ishanth?). Otherwise, this match is lost before it begins.