If the win against Pakistan became imperative on psychological front for Team India, it has become necessary to beat South Africa to fulfill strategic requirement. This particular event might prove to be one of the most crucial for team India. Honestly, as a layman, it appears to me that the South Africans have got a slight edge over the Team India. But then, as a die-hard supporter of MSD and company, I find it very encouraging what the former Indian cricketer and one of the experts, VVS Laxman has opined. He said, “Even though the results did not go India’s way in Australia earlier, the current form of Indian batsmen and the way they played against Pakistan in the last game is encouraging. It shows that, having been in Australia for about two and a half months, they have got used to the Australian conditions and have adapted themselves to play on bouncy and quicker wickets”.
Laxman further added, “Although it will be a challenge to play against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or Imran Tahir, the Indian batting line-up has enough depth and talent to do well against any bowling lineup in the world”.
Once termed as Very Very Special Laxman who has got a rich experience of 134 Tests and 86 ODIs, he strongly feels that India’s bowlers will have a spring in their step after their recent good form.
He further elaborated, “After winning the opening match against Pakistan, the confidence quotient is high among the Indian bowlers and that will come in handy when bowling to the formidable South African batting line-up. In the game against Pakistan, all the bowlers bowled to a plan and picked wickets consistently. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami executed the plan to perfection by bowling in the right areas while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja kept pressure on the Pakistani batsmen with their spin”.
Although team India do not have a favorable record against South Africa against whom they lost in 1992, 1999 and 2011 and World Cup, but a positive Laxman opined that what happened in the past does not really matter.
He described, “A lot of players from the current Indian XI have not been there in the previous match or encounters and so it is difficult to take the outcomes of previous encounters into consideration. The players will know the strength and the weaknesses of the opposition team and should focus completely on playing to their potential to overcome the challenges and do well in the current match.”
Sharing his opinion on the scope of co-hosts New Zealand, Laxman said, “I have said this in the past, since the time Brendon McCullough became the captain of New Zealand, their approach and subsequent results have been positive. As a squad, this is one of the most confident New Zealand side that I have seen on a cricket field. Kane Williamson has led the batting scores and (Trent) Bolt and (Tim) Southee have been consistent with ball”.
It is important to remember that New Zealand made it to six World Cup semi-finals but have failed to cross the final-four hurdle. Laxman believes that this time around, it might be a different story. He elaborated, “While they were always good, especially in big tournaments, and they have come to the semi-final stages quite consistently, I always felt that they did not have the self belief within them that they can go on and win the cup. However, since the last one year, not only with the results they are getting, their approach looks very positive and I think that their performance speaks for itself. I definitely believe that they are one of the strong contenders and favorites to win this World Cup”.