During the last 3-4 years, team India has been ruling the arena of ODIs. Basically, right after defeating Sri Lanka in the last world cup final, Indians were consistently doing well in ODIs. During the last one year we have beaten England, Australia, West Indies and Zimbabwe in ODI series. The simple reason behind these wins was the amazing co-ordination amongst the team. Vital contributions were made by our batsmen and bowlers in an almost equal proportion.
But then, experts had been pointing out very clearly that the real capabilities of our bowlers (old and new) will only be judged on the bouncy pitches of South Africa. Their apprehensions have unfortunately proved true, as most of our bowlers have failed to deliver on the current tour. But the bowlers are not the only ones at fault.
Many of the columnists are of the opinion that our batting is also equally responsible for not piling up huge scores or not being able to chase given targets. But it is not feasible for the batsmen to outperform in every match. It takes a while even for the best batsmen of England, Australia and South Africa to adjust to the comparatively slow pitches of India!
But primarily, the responsibility of the bowlers in any away series is far more. We have a seemingly good combination of pacers like Umesh Yadav, Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami and spinner R Ashwin. But since Ashwin has not been able to strike and has lost his rhythm, captain MS Dhoni needs to consider dropping Ashwin and needs to replace him with Ishant Sharma.
Without adopting a hypocritical approach, most of the fans do not hesitate to admit that South Africans have got a clear edge in every sphere of the game. It is really difficult to counter the bowling attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander on their home pitches. Also, we can foresee that the Indian bowling attack is not as good as theirs. Only veteran Zaheer Khan has got the exposure of the bouncy tracks of South Africa.
Personally, I have got an intuition that Mohammed Shami might prove effective. The reason behind this is not based on his technical ability but the honest all-out efforts he has been putting in. Therefore, giving a chance to four pacers and relying on magical Sir Jadeja as the fifth bowler appears to be a viable option. Spinners are never expected to do miracles on bouncy pitches. So, giving an experience to the fast bowlers might prove fruitful for the future.
In fact, our captain has got the guts to make brave decisions. Playing with four pacers might give us an opportunity to take quick wickets and restrict South Africa. For our batters, the only need is to protect their wicket and gradually pick up runs. If our batsmen are able to apply themselves at the crease, they certainly have the ability to score well. The short term goal is to regain the confidence, and in case we are able to regain our fighting spirit, we might be able to reverse all the forecasts for this series. A jet load of good wishes.