After comprehensively defeating Pakistan, spirited India will take on the mighty South Africa in their second match on February 22nd at Melbourne (this will be the second match for South Africa also). Both of them have clashed three times in World Cup in which South Africa have secured victory on all three occasions. So if India have to win this time, let us take a look at the five things that India must do to break their losing streak:
1. Win the toss and bat first (and what if they lose the toss?):
If MS Dhoni calls it right at the toss, he must elect to bat first because it makes no sense to have the scoreboard pressure against South Africa. Of course the conditions at Melbourne won’t be easy while batting first but India can take heart from their win over them in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 at Cardiff. Being put into bat, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan initially found it difficult to adjust to the swing and bounce but as they got themselves in, it became easy for them and the other batsmen to score and as a result, India posted 331 in their innings and won the match by 26 runs.
Now what if India loses the toss? If this happens, then on first note they can only hope that South Africa elects to bowl first. But if they choose to bat then India should not try to do anything extra. Instead, they should focus on their basics and try and restrict South Africa to a modest total.
2. Play Binny ahead of Jadeja:
The pitch at Melbourne usually assists pacers a lot more than spinners plus South Africa also have three left-handed batsmen (Quinton de Kock, David Miller and JP Duminy) in their side, so, including Stuart Binny ahead of Ravindra Jadeja would be a good choice. Binny can swing the ball and can also hit a few lusty blows at the end of the innings.
On the other hand, a question can also be raised as to why to disturb the winning combination? In my opinion, it’s right, but in these conditions, the theory of horses for courses would be more apt.
3. Play Rahane at number three if lose an early wicket:
If India loses an early wicket then Ajinkya Rahane should and must bat ahead of vice-captain Virat Kohli at number three. It’s because Kohli is a bit susceptible to swing bowling and if he also gets out cheaply then India will find themselves in big trouble.
On the other hand, Rahane has a better technique against the moving ball and if he is bale to play his natural game then Kohli, Raina and Dhoni will find it easy to propel India to a competitive total.
4. Attack South Africa’s openers from the word go:
South Africa’s openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock have had a good time against the Indian pacers in the past. They have dominated them everytime from the word go and have been tough to get out. In this big match, Dhoni should attack from the first over itself by opening the bowling with Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav. If both of them can get their lengths right, Amla and de Kock will surely find it tough to score. Shami has also got the better off Amla on five occasions till now. So, this is one psychological advantage that he’ll have over him.
5. Openers must bat responsibly:
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma’s opening partnership has been an asset for India in the recent past. Rohit takes his time early on and gets his eye in by watching the ball closely while Dhawan is more imposing early in his innings and laces the off-side with his trademark shots. As the innings progresses, Rohit picks up momentum and catches up with Dhawan. In this match also, they just need to do the same and the lay the foundation of a big score.
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