Monday, February 8, 2010

Is Smith confident about his decisions?

As expected at the end of the second day's play between India and South Africa, South Africa did pile up a mammoth total of 556 for the loss of 6 wickets before declaring the innings. However, a close look at the game's play suggests that the South African captain might have erred in declaring the innings with still 4 wickets in hand. If the scorecard of the South African 1st innings is given a close look at, it is well evident that the pitch might be a pure batting paradise. For, the South Africans lost just 4 wickets on day 2 of the test match.

If not for the opening pair of Graeme Smith and Ashwell Prince, none of the South African batsmen had any sorts of problems with the Indian bowlers. As a matter of fact, South Africans have been comparatively bad players of spin compared to the teams from the sub continent. And the scorecard suggests us that the bowler who maintained the worst economy in the first innings happened to be India's leading and most experienced spinner Harbhajan Singh who ended with an economy rate of 3.60. Moreover, Harbhajan had just 1 maiden which was the lowest among the lot with just one over maiden.

A part time off spinner in Sehwag can come out with an equal number of overs maiden, that Harbhajan could do out of his 46 overs. And, who all batted from the South African team, if not for Prince and Smith, every other batsmen came out with good success barring Duminy. However, prior to the series, India were expected to atleast draw the series with the Proteas, in case they needed to stay at the top of the test ratings, which suggests that the pressure is on India though being the hosts. If the South African first innings is considered, they need not worry about losing, for worst come the match might end in a draw. But, is that the spirit of the way a game is supposed to be played?

In one way, Smith's decision to declare the innings can be given a nod for, the Indian team is too short of batsmen if not for the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni. Despite the presence of these four, and their capability to score runs, they can hardly be considered to put up a decent partnership that is quintessential in test cricket. India have lost batsmen in Laxman and Dravid, who can stay at the crease for long time that can exhaust the opposition bowlers. Added to that, South Africa have a match winning bowler combination in Dale Steyn, Morkel and Harris along with the experience of Kallis. So, Smith's decision is now in a toss whose result is expected tomorrow.

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