Posted by: rajeshkannan | February 4, 2010

India v South Africa Series Preview – Part 2

India’s bowling

There was a time when India used to look enviously, but also with perplexity, at Pakistan’s conveyor belt of fast bowlers. Wasim and Waqar stayed on, but left in their wake a lot of Naved Latif and Kabir Khan-shaped debris. India faces something similar now, but without the W-W axis. Zaheer Khan is a constant (when’s he’s fit), but his supporting acts haven’t quite established themselves, though I still have high hopes for Ishant Sharma. Given the turnover rate, don’t be surprised if India’s attack in South Africa later this year is Zaheer, Abhimanyu Mithun and Avishkar Salvi.

Too much one-day cricket and the resulting need to contain is the culprit, most clearly evinced in Ishant’s ragged performances in the limited overs game, which has seeped into his Test game. Though there were encouraging signs in Bangladesh, South Africa is an entirely different proposition. Ishant needs to resume bowling at 140kph+ for his bounce to be a serious threat in India, and his battle with Morne Morkel will be fascinating to watch – two similar bowlers, one on the ascendant but in unfamiliar conditions, and exactly the reverse for Ishant.

I find it incredible that Harbhajan Singh has taken nearly 350 wickets, especially when comparing him to the ones ahead of (and just behind) him on the list. He has consistently shown a fear of flighting the ball, and as the spin spearhead now, he still refuses to learn. But he will play, of course, and so probably, will Amit Mishra. I like Mishra but if the pitches are too slow, he can be read easily off the pitch. Overall, India’s spin bowling stocks, though hardly in South Africa’s state of disrepair, are running dangerously low, and I can’t help but blame limited overs cricket once again.

South Africa’s batting

Cometh the hour, cometh Smith and Kallis, as the line (almost) goes. Both are big match players, and in a 2-Test series to decide the no. 1 ranking, there are no small matches. There are also no bankers in such a short series, but Kallis scoring a century has to come close. But Smith will have to deal with Ashwell Prince’s unfamiliarity at the top of the order, and his line-up lacks the Indian openers’ ability to grab a game by the throat. The sometimes attritional nature of South Africa’s batting can, though, work in their favour. The Indians prefer combating free flowing strokemakers, and Dhoni has certainly shown a willingness to winkle out wickets with stifling fields. All I’ll say is – good luck trying to bore Kallis out.

Hashim Amla almost always looks good but he is in a woeful trough of form, as is the rest of the middle-order. But at least in AB de Villiers’ case, I’d back him to bounce out of it. AB is very highly-rated (definitely by the Australians) on account of a few superb performances which stick in the mind – Headingley and Perth, notably – and he was brilliant the last time he visited India. In the last couple of years, he has added consistency, that wonderful, under-rated quality possessed by Kallis.

Another big question mark hangs over the middle order. Will JP Duminy play, and if so, which one will turn up – the spectacular matchwinner from 2008, or the walking golden duck of a more recent vintage? It’s hard to even say he’s off-form given how little we’ve seen of him in recent times. South Africa may well go with AB at the top and replace Duminy with Prince in the middle for the second Test if Duminy’s travails continue.

South Africa’s off-field turmoil

The South African team has always been professional – to the point of being robotic – and I don’t think Mickey Arthur’s resignation and the selection committee’s overthrow will have any bearing on this Test series. The side that visited India in 2004 had some clearly over-promoted players, like Thami Tsolekile and Justin Ontong – which may have been politically motivated – and it showed in the team’s defeat. This team has no such issues, but it’ll be interesting to watch whether the quota system was indeed the driver for the current upheaval, and what sort of bearing it has on team composition and morale. But that’s for future series, not this one.


If 2008 repeats itself and India find themselves 0-1 down going into the Kolkata Test, I can almost guarantee that the Eden Gardens pitch will take turn from the first day. What I can definitely guarantee are the resulting howls of outrage and scorn from across the world, howls that were curiously absent when South Africa prepared a swinging, seaming paradise for their formidable pace attack at Wanderers in the must-win final Test against England.


On one hand, a formidable but depleted batting lineup faces a superb, but spin-less bowling attack. On the other, an equally formidable but off-form batting line-up takes on a raggedy bowling line-up familiar with the conditions. Home advantage being what it is, I’m plumping for a 1-0 home win, but it will be close, and South Africa has enough match-winners to negate my prediction and oddsmakers. Their pace attack ran through the Indian BP XI in the practice match, and how well they exploit India’s middle order green-ness will determine the series outcome.


  1. 1-0 for India is my prediction as well. A win in Nagpur followed by a boring draw at Kolkata… Somehow, India’s draws tend to boring ones.

  2. I had a look at the teams from the last series in India in 2008 and South Africa are virtually the same team minus Ntini and Mackenzie. India on the other hand have several changes, some through injury others through selection. I’m not sure if that is relevant but it does show that the Proteas are an experienced outfit.

    I expect Steyn to worry the new batsman in India’s middle-order but I’m also not expecting too many solid opening partnerships from the Proteas unless of course de Villiers joins Smith at the top of the order.

    It is a tough series to call and because it is only two matches the first game is vitally important. It’s a toss either captain would sacrifice plenty to win.

    As for pitch preparation India would do well to have dusty pitches for both matches and damn the criticism. They haven’t been No. 1 for long and they’ll soon learn, if they haven’t already, that it is much harder staying at the top than it is getting there.

  3. Nesta, this Indian team compares pretty decently to the Indian team for most of that series. Gambhir is a vastly superior replacement for Jaffer, and though Dravid and Ganguly aren’t there now, but a certain Mr. Tendulkar is back – overall, I’d call the batting even.

    Zaheer Khan is the biggest bowling addition for India in this series (and Kumble the biggest loss). Even the bowling looks even, factoring those two.

    As for SAF, the lineup looks frighteningly good, but the middle order, barring Kallis, is in woeful touch. If they can get back to form, it’ll go a long way towards winning, or at least saving this series.

    India have big middle order worries if Laxman can’t play – Vijay, Badri and Rohit Sharma in the same lineup right now is exciting, but way too untested. And this support act will be vital. I’d take Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar vs any three other batsmen in the world, but if they fail, there’s trouble.

    • Kumble’s loss doesn’t seem too big considering how he bowled in the two tests he played in that series. Even Dravid had a bad series last time round so it’s hard to say we’re going to worse off compared to last time.

  4. I catch it fantastic when Harbhajan Singh had taken nearly 350 wickets, especially when comparing him to the ones ahead of (and just behind) him.I would like to wish gud luck to all the players.

  5. I would actually play safe by having a turner at Nagpur, if it helps India win. We can always draw Kolkata. :)

    What I actually dread is both teams playing out two draws. With no Dravid around, in the event Sehwag gets out early, I expect Gambhir and Sachin to nurse the middle order towards at least 350+.

    Dhoni hasn’t lost a test till now.More importantly, India has gone 18 months and around 12 tests with out a loss.

    If Sehwag fires and the others cash in, India has the bowling to take 20 wickets.

    If Steyn/Morkel + fielding takes out the Indian top order for below 100, SA will win the series.

  6. Looking forward to this one. Part of the facination for me is that fact that India have been very slow to start in recent series and with only 2 tests, that could be disasterous. They escaped with draws against Australia and Sri Lanka, and managed to get the better of Bangladesh in the end but may not be so lucky against South Africa.

    The other issue for me is South Africa’s inability to win when being number 1 has been in the line.

    My money would be on a South African dominated draw in the first and an Indian win in the second.

  7. Fascinating preview, wonderfully detailed, but I suspect there’s a element that is a real difference between the teams – fielding. Kallis and Smith might be the best two slips in world cricket; Amla is the best short leg; AB the best anywhere and JP is pretty good too. The boundary riders aren’t bad now Harris is unlikely to play. If Sehwag is run out or AB holds on to a rocket in the gully, that could be a game breaker.

    • True enough – AB and JP are especially brilliant. India will definitely miss Dravid’s catching in the slips, but the two new boys, Vijay and Badri, are great fielders as well (Vijay took a blinder at slip in the last Test, so slip), so India may not be that far behind SAF. But definitely a point I was thinking of bringing up, then just forgot to cinlude among all the other things :)

      • Smith, Kallis and AB in the slips are way better than Tendulkar, Laxman and Vijay. Amla is the best forward short leg in the world. And we haven’t even gone into the non-catching positions where South Africa are way ahead of India.

  8. I’m not sure LOIs are behind Ishant’s struggles, it’s not like he bowls a restrictive line in the shorter formats.

    It seems to me that most bowlers try to do too much these days. With the batsmen being more proactive about scoring runs these days they’ll invariably give the bowlers a chance or two by playing at deliveries which the ones from the previous generations would have shouldered arms to. This is why Zaheer has become such a good bowler. He doesn’t try to bowl any magic balls, just keeps it on a length just outside off and lets the seam and pitch do the rest. He’s also good at bowling bouncers that force batsmen to make difficult decisions unlike some bowlers whose bouncers zip harmlessly over the batsman’s head or way outside off.

  9. How can you comment on Amla,he has been one the most sucessful batsmen in the last two series.Check your facts.

    Go SA GO

    • I thought he was ok v England, some shoddy performances bookended by 2 good ones. And v Australia at home, he was pretty bad. But you’re right, his form is not exactly “woeful”

    • Also, he’s been really out of form in the domestic supersport cup for his dolphins team this season – averaging under 30 in 7 innings.

      • Incorrect,check the last two innings,he took them to final in MTN 40.
        He does not play much in Supersport series due to Interntional,there are much more players that fared worse.
        Lets give due where it is due.
        Proudly South African

  10. That’s a good analysis, but you’re wrong in one aspect – Aavishkar Salvi is long past that time when he would have been considered by selectors, and he’s way too slow to cause any sort of trouble in international cricket. Mithun will certainly be in the fray, and others like RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel will be rotated constantly around Zaheer and Ishant!

  11. Just saw Prince get given out. I’ve seen and accepted decisions like those my entire life but after one season of reviews in Australia I’m now finding myself very disappointed that the rest of the cricketing world won’t invest in the tools to make bad decisions like the one Prince got a thing of the past.

    Well, there goes Smith. No need for a review of that dismissal!

    SAF 6/2 (6.3ov)

  12. Must. Kill. Kallis. Failing that, must feed him a lot of dodgy curry at lunch

  13. Steady RK. The score is only 32/2 at this stage and Kallis is just on 10.

    • Definitely need some dodgy curry now – Kallis looks very Kallisy

  14. Amla has been very solid too. A fair bit of turn, albeit very slow, for the first session of a Test. Next session will be very interesting indeed.

    LUNCH 90/2 (29) Kallis 55* Amla 24*

  15. Kallis must have passed on the curry because his hundred considering the circumstances (The Mace, the score when he arrived) has been exceptional.

    SAF 155/2 (54)

  16. Woke up just as Kallis raised his hundred. I know exactly what I missed.

    On a more tangential point, the man who looks most like the South Africans who ran the Apartheid state and the man who looks least like those men, do play rather well together. Of course, very different people can bat well together – SR Waugh and MA Waugh for example!

  17. Well done SA,unlucky for Prince.
    Amla/Kallis doing Great
    Amla proving his critics (Barry Richards,Kepler Wessels ) wrong again.
    Well don SA
    Proudly South African

  18. My younger boy asked where the crowd were. I didn’t really have an answer.

    • The Nagpur stadium is in an awful location miles away from Nagpur and not really near any population base – don’t go by VCA stadium turnouts. It’s a pity coz it’s such a great stadium. The Eden will have 30-40,000 for sure.

      • Why so many stadiums are built so far from cities is beyond me. I guess the land is cheaper, but I bet it’s cheaper still on the Moon!

        I love seeing football grounds and cricket grounds right in the middle of cities.

        Kallis is going to make a mistake here. Amla’s concentration and patience is Dravidesque. Harbhajan looks like an English spinner – in fact, not as good as an English spinner.

        • This is the fourth international match of the season for Nagpur. The BCCI President is from this city and he makes sure there’s atleast one game a series at this venue. The Eden Gardens is under renovation and they’re not going to sell any tickets for that test. This while Chennai and Bangalore haven’t staged an international game since late 2008. Of course the commentators can’t be bothered to talk about this, they’re busy wanking over their favourite players and providing commentary for the brain-dead.

  19. Poor captaincy from Dhoni not to attack with a proper slip cordon for ZK straight after tea. And the one slip in was standing too wide and was half asleep.

    Test cricket needs more bowlers as captains.

    • Michael Clarke did a marvelous job last night. I guess he bowls a bit. You don’t see three slips in a T20 too often nor seven in the ring in the 17th over. I presume your wish for skipper in Bangladesh would be dear old Swanny.

      Also, he never gets much kudos but I thought Bob Willis captained England well against Australia. In those days I only ever saw England play the BaggyGreen so I don’t know how he went against other nations.

  20. Kallis’ century was one of the more inevitable things – the man really is a monster, probably the finest cricketer I’ve seen in my lifetime, and a definite contender for Greatest Ever honours.

    Well done, Amla as well

    • Of course one can’t argue against Kallis’ numbers nor his impregnable technique, but he’s not a game changer with the bat. It’s strange because he has always bowled that full length and attacking line ensuring that he’ll find whatever swing there is. I wish he’d been as fearless on his batting, particularly when set.

  21. Clarke does know what it is takes to get batsmen out, but he grew up in the only cricket culture that has attack as the default position not defend.

    Willis could be a bit miserable at mid-off, but he would have had slips in place and posed questions after a break.

    I do favour Swanny as stand-in captain, but there’s a reluctance to believe that bouncy enthusiasm and shrewd cunning can exist in the same head. They can.

    Hoggy is captain of Leicestershire this year, and I think he’ll do well.

  22. Well done Amla
    proved (Barry Richards,Kepler Wessels ) wrong again.

  23. Very big statement of intent by the Proteas today and beautifully set up for de Villiers, Duminy and Boucher to attack tomorrow.

    India will be under pressure for quite some time in their first innings and it will be interesting to see how they fare after relatively easy series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

    RK you were spot on about Harbhajan. He never looked like taking a wicket and they scored freely from him. I don’t think he bowled a maiden either!

  24. Is any declaration safe when you see chases like this one?

    • I watched some of that game this morning and the bowling wasn’t exactly penetrating. Against a competent Test attack 400 plus is still a very rare chase and 500, if it ever happens, would be rarer still. Fourth innings double hundreds are equally unusual.

      And to answer the question, rhetorical or not, no declaration can be totally safe when there is time available to chase them down. It’s one of the hundreds of reasons why cricket is the grandest of games.

      • What that scorecard doesn’t tell you is Yusuf was dropped a number of times. Go to the fourth innings commentary and search for the word “Dropped”.

  25. I want Duminy to stroll out there at Nagpur and smack that ball all day. Of course, I don’t want Kallis or Amla out either…

    I have set myself up on Indian time tomorrow in the hopes that Duminy will be on early. I could watch him bat all day.

    Amla!!… he is so nifty in the field , too. ALways under the radar. Him and Duminy both are lightning fast and God alone knows how long it will be before they field, SA can bat on till Armageddon, on a good day…

    Ishant… The Great Disappointment.

    I can’t bear to watch Harbhajan Singh even now.. Time hasn’t softened my hard heart against Harb, so I pass on him as usual.

    • Pepp – I agree on Harbhajan, but I think Ishant is young enough to come again. Amla’s concentration batting or fielding is awesome – what a fine player he has become.

  26. Good to hear positive comments on Amla.There has been positive comments on Amla in SA,people now are now accepting him due to the past in SA.Well done to SA public as well.



  27. Amla!!..

    JP Duminy broke my heart. Oh well.

    but AMLA!!!!


  28. Two down very early in the day. 49/2.

    I think India is probably the only Test nation without a single bowler who can cross 140+ kmph on a regular basis. Lovely to watch Morkel bowl at that pace.

    Both Viru and Sachin need to stay, but it looks very difficult out there.

    And btw, I hope the selectors and Dhoni see reason at least now and drop Harbhajan.

    • Three now Tendulkar snaffled! Losing three top order wickets in an hour makes 550 seem like Everest. It’s situations like this where Dravid will be missed most. Big chance for Badrinath to make a name for himself.

      IND 56/3 (15)

  29. “Morkel to Sehwag, 1 run, 152.0 kph, almost yorker length, on the middle stump line, dug out past the non-striker and to left of mid-on.”

    The pitch doesn’t matter when some one bowls full at that pace and can manage not to lose the line. Great contest here between two aggressive bowlers and two strokemakers.

  30. Parnell * shiver*.. he can be lethal, and he is looking like he LIKES being lethal, as well…..ooooo

  31. Badri will make a name for himself if he just manages to stay there. I reckon India will do well from here on to even touch 400.

    • Sorry..I meant India will have to do extremely well from here on, to have a chance of touching 400.

  32. Surely this is the best bowling attack in the world? My word, Steyn and Morkel are astonishingly good.

    How come the fast men in India seem to lose 10-20kph within a year or so of entering the team?

    • This is the best fast bowling pair in the world. If you consider the best attack overall I think Australia and Pakistan are better and England run them close.

      • My whole point is that these two are so good that Kallis (who’s pretty damn good himself) and A.N.Other, in this case, Parnell, are enough for this to be called the best in the world. Just compare to the Aus attack which came here and got slaughtered – so far, SAF have looked light years ahead, though I know it’s early days.

      • And never mind Pakistan – one Test match morning does not a bowling attack make- we’ll see if Asif (ha!), Sami (ha!), Gul (mini-ha!) and Aamer (now there’s some genuine potential) can get some consistency over a year or so.

        England are a bit blah- they don’t have even one truly world class bowler. Anderson is inconsistent, Broad is still finding his feet, and Swann, though in form, didn’t do great the last time he was in spin land.

        For my money, SAF is clearly the best attack in the world, with 2 top notch, complementary fast men, which means more often than not the backup just has to keep the ball shiny for them.

  33. With Sehwag gone (what a careless shot !), it is going to be uphill for India to even avoid the follow on.

    • Agree. But seriously, all those years wasted with Yuvraj are really pissing me off now. Even if he gets out now, Badri’s innings has been better than all but 3-4 of Yuvraj’s, over 33 tests. Well, der aaye durust aaye.

  34. RK,

    What’s pissing me off more is that the selectors included VVS in the squad even though it was clear he wasn’t going to be 100% fit for the match.

    And with Rohit injuring himself, poor Saha is expected to play like a proper batsman. Badri is playing in place of VVS and it is Saha who is filling in for Yuvraj now. The selectors should’ve ideally kept Kohli/Raina/Cheteshwar in the squad in place of VVS (DK was playing the Duleep final).

    All we can hope for now is that Saha scores at least his first class average- 35 runs in this innings. And that Bhajji will some how make another 30+ score.

    There you go, just as I type this, Dhoni gets out to a strange dismissal, and Saha walks in.

    • The first of the two Saha test innings ever comes to close when Steyn bowls him off the third ball.Poor kid..not his fault that he gets picked as a batsman !

  35. Badri gone now. My nightmare script coming true.

    Can some one please crack a joke as I am feeling miserable now ? And I want to use impolite language about the selectors too..

  36. Look’s like we’re gonna have to bat again today. I wouldn’t blame the selectors too much – it’s a freak occurrence for Sharma to be injured as well, but in hindsight, another batsman would have been nice. Need to do a Napier and Kolkata to save this match.

    If not, Eden minefield, with bowling lineup of Zaheer, Harbhajan, Ojha and Mishra – it’ll be a crapshoot, but it’s India’s best chance

    • Gary Kirsten was asked abt VVS being in the squad when it was clear his chances of being match fit are very low. Gary told the journos to ask the selectors about it. So, that says it all, I suppose.

      Any way, water under the bridge and all that.

      Viru and Gautam should be getting ready to bat again. This match can definitely be saved, yet.But with Steyn bowling so beautifully, I have my doubts whether India will be able to make SA bat again.

  37. Steyn!!! Just effing magnificent – finally an authentically great fast bowler from the 2000s. Devastating, and he’ll surely go down as at leaast as good as, and probably better than Donald himself. What a bowler!

  38. Steyn’s figures, modes of dismissal and match position reminds me a lot of this match –

  39. Good lord, now Gambhir’s gone! This one seems pretty done and dusted – time to dig up the Eden!

  40. I do hope that Steyn gives a few interviews in India.. he is total charm, and straight as a dye.

    Of course, it was Steyn that did us here in AUstralia, ( the only bowler to do so for a few decades ) you couldn’t help but love the bloke, he was magnificent, then, and even more so, these days.

    I could just watch him tie his shoelaces up as much as his bowling. An elegant bowler, and an elegant man.

    • You forgot Ajit Agarkar in 2003 ;)

      That must go down as one of the more embarrassing episodes in Aus cricket, being done in by Ajit effing Agarkar!

      • I know you meant series, btw. but still can’t believe it was the world’s worst bowler of all time (TM) who wrecked Aus in Aus once.

        Indian fans still treat him like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction – the f***ker kept coming back from the dead and somehow wormed his way into the team, to our despair! And with fast bowlers looking scarce once again, could he be back again? NOOOO!!!

  41. On the other hand, it’s quite possible that Indian cricket fans may be in no mood to appreciate the utter charm of Steyn after today. Quite understandable.

    • I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Problem with having a billion people is that there are always enough tossers who tend to drown out the genuine appreciation the vast majority of the viewers will definitely have for such a performance (see Chennai 1999 v Pakistan).

      I mean, with 20m people, Australia suffers from appreciation deficits from time to time, imagine it 50 fold.

      • I don’t know about others but I’ve been a fan of Steyn since 2007. The man has an action to kill for.

  42. I didnt forget Agit.. but he didn’t win the series, neither did India. Neither did Au for that matter. 1 match to India, one to Australia and 2 drawn.

    But Steyn did it for the Saffers, and did what India continue to fail in accomplishing. A series Test win in Au. This Steyn has accomplished. Agit didn’t.

    Case closed, really.

    But you know, losing that series to the Saff, the first loss in a very long time, against all comers in AU was not a case of agony. The South Africans played truly truly magnificent cricket. Took their licks without moaning, too. Were gracious and professional and Steyn was simply magnificently terrible. So magnificently terrible that he got a standing ovation, not the usual thing for AU cricket crowds. They keep them for very special occasions.

    • I know you meant series, btw. but still can’t believe it was the world’s worst bowler of all time (TM) who wrecked Aus in Aus once.

      Indian fans still treat him like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction – the f***ker kept coming back from the dead and somehow wormed his way into the team, to our despair! And with fast bowlers looking scarce once again, could he be back again? NOOOO!!!

  43. Nearly as amazing as Pup Clarke’s 3 slowies in quick succesion that clunked India at Sydney 2008. I couldnt believe what I was seeing. No wonder Kumble lost his marbles.

    My point is, that AU wasn’t wrecked in that series, and that Agit didn’t accomplish a thing, really. In comparison to Steyn. Who did both. . Test Series Win.

    • Jesus man, get a humour transplant, willya? i was just messing with you. Australia is all-conquering, wonderful, and perfect and India will never ever be good enough to lick their boots, happy?

      • oh yes, perfectly happy, thankyou. And I realise,Rajesh, that you are full of humour and gaiety too. Probably as much as me. I am always quite happy, but really, never happier than seeing India get dragged around in India like a dead rabbit in a dogs jaw. Which the Saffers are obviously doing. Perfectly predictable.

        • Always come out of the woodwork, don’t ya, when Aus starts winning or India starts losing? That’s why we haven’t been graced by your presence for a while I guess.

          I have no problem in India being dragged around in India by a clearly superior team, which SAF is, we realise now. Unlike others.

          Screw it, I’m falling into the old trap of getting into a flame war with a bot. ‘Night.

          • Oh dear, how rude you are, raj. Uneccesarily so. And your last accusation was that I ‘ didn’t come out of the woodwork unless England is losing’.. . And now you’ve added India. . But Raj.. If I only waited until England was WINNING, or INDIA was winning, I’d never get to contribute to Nesta’s lovely blog, now would I ? Years could go by, and people would be asking, ‘where’s Pepp?’… and Raj would say, oh well. She has to hang about until England win, or India win, you know..

            But I decided, Raj, that you don’t run this blog. You are merely a contributor, much like myself, and I put up with you. But that’s ok. I expect your unprovoked rudeness, it’s par for the course, actually. I know you can’t help it, so what’s the point of being concerned about it?

            Sleep well, Raj.

  44. I’d like to see Kallis get a big wicket. He has worked all day in the hot sun like a maddened cart horse, steaming in, throwing it like mad. Fabulous to watch.

  45. oo ooo, Kallis is going for the bones. Bit of chin music there, from the Great Jaques… .

  46. Harris,… soooo subtle.

  47. Mesmerising day’s play. Smith made the right decision with the follow-on. Steyn. So good. Hard to criticise the Indian batsmen, really. Steyn on a roll is like an endless thunderstorm. No reprieve at all. But even so, I didn’t expect such a rolling collapse. I’ll leave that critique up to Indian fans. If Steyn ever gets up to Tait’s speed we can all go home, it will be goodnight Irene for everyone except SA.

    Just listening to Steyn in an after match interview *dreamyeyed* .. gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

    Morkel. Handy, and hardworking.

    Harris. Slows everything down at the crucial moment. Excellent subtle play.

    Smith. His field placement is as good as Vettori’s , as good as Pontings. He does it with a raise of the eyebrow, too. Everyone in that team knows what’s what.

  48. Hope Mark Boucher is not injured. He looked like a man with a broken back that last episode of play.

  49. For people in India following cricket only recently, that is, after the Aus era began, this must have been one of the very rare home tests where a visiting bowler ripped the batting order apart.

    I must thank Toots for reminding me about Holding. Those WI blokes used to do this too – Marshall, Holding & Co.

    Steyn would have run through any batting order today, but Dravid and VVS’ absence has come at such a wrong time. But, even after the early dismissals, I had hope in Sehwag.Once he perished to that wide ball from Parnell, I knew Steyn would just tear through the rest.

    I think Zaheer bowled the in and out swingers as well as Steyn, but it is the extra 10 kmph that makes all the difference.

    As a pragmatic Indian fan, I know only a miracle can save us now from an innings defeat. And the momentum will be so huge for SA that India will find it tough to defend themselves against this pace attack in the morning and post-tea sessions at Kolkata. Irrespectie of the pitch, if Steyn bowls from the Hooghly end in the evening, there is no chance for India unless Dravid and Laxman come back in to the team :)

    I will be happy if India can extend this match into the final day, which looks unlikely as of now.

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