The lack of skill, technique and footwork were quite evident in India’s young batsmen while facing the hostile South African bowling on Thursday. This is precisely the reason why overseas tours should be well planned and scheduled in such a way that teams have a chance to get acclimatised to the conditions before playing an international game.
The only outcome from such callous arrangement is that the confidence of a player is totally shattered.
The Indian batsmen will now need to construct their future not only through technical adjustments, but also mentally.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel struck the first blow by exposing the Indian batsmen’s inability to play swing and the short, rising delivery. The best way to counter this would be to watch the technique used by Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.
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The South African batsmen move their back leg across to get a good feel about their off stump and then make the adjustment to play either a defensive shot or an aggressive one.
This is easier said than done, as it requires practice in the nets and in front of a mirror. Sunil Gavaskar was a clever exponent of such adjustments and that is precisely the reason why he was very successful on foreign soil as well.
This is not the first exposure to South Africa for most of the Indian batsmen, and to see them playing and missing and looking bewildered shows that they had spent very little time in thinking as to how they will approach batting in such conditions.
The bowlers were also all at sea. They bowled some wonderful deliveries but were not able to consistently maintain the length or direction. Once again, practice is the only way to master such conditions and one does feel sorry that the young inexperienced Indian bowlers were given very little time to hone their skills.
Fortunately for India, there are two more ODIs before the true ‘test’ arrives. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan, Virat Kohli need to spend some time in the middle rather than play foolish shots. Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu need to be inducted into the side soon, as these conditions would be a good experience for them. India should look at this series as an opportunity to nurture youngsters and, therefore, winning this series should not be the focal point of their game plan.
Rome was not built in a day, and so it is with the new-look Indian side.
There are some gifted cricketers in there, and the aim of the BCCI should be to give them all opportunities and facilities to better themselves.
The stalwarts should be kept in the team as advisors.
Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh or Gautam Gambhir — as suggested by Dhoni as the prime candidate for the third opener’s slot in the squad — are all great players, but the time has come for them to be on the sidelines as ready replacements, if the need arises, in the build up to the 2015 World Cup.
The way India play on this South African tour will be of great interest. It will make men out of boys and the weak-hearted will be left languishing. Talent is not everything — perspiration and a big heart is required to create a legend.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.