Immaculate length and accuracy stifled South Africa in the last two sessions on the second Day of the first Test. Gaurav Joshi elaborates on the performance of Indian fast bowlers in keeping the team in hunt.
Luck plays a role in success but only when you can create your own luck. During the post lunch session the Indian bowlers beat the South African batsmen edges more than 20 times, they can be termed as luckless but in hindsight they were building towards success.
Usually when a batsman is beaten more than a dozen times, it is because the length has been that fraction short and by the time the ball moves it has deviated too much to kiss the edge. For the Indian bowlers, it was definitely not the case. In the matter of fact they had out bowled their accomplished opponents by hitting the fuller length, but they were just less fortunate.
In between all the dismay India rarely bowled a loose delivery that we have all accustomed to seeing. Hashim Amla was seldom given room outside the off stump and the pacers hardly gave Graeme Smith any width either. In the past, the Indian bowlers have been guilty of releasing the pressure with a boundary-ball but on the second day they were ruthless. Although Smith and Amla put on a partnership in excess of 90, they were made to earn their runs. Even though runs seem to flow, a wicket always seemed imminent.
Luck is only for the unprepared and the relentless line and length bowled by the Indian bowlers finally transformed into rich rewards.
Amla had got into mindset of leaving the good length balls but all of a sudden, Ishant Sharma delivered at a perfect length causing him to misjudge. It was the sort of dismissal that is likely to play on Amla’s mind for the rest of the series.
Jacques Kallis on the other side of 38, has been dismissed leg-before in five of the last six innings. Perhaps he too is having problems picking up the full ball just like Sachin Tendulkar did in his twilight. It was a definite plan given by Duncan Flectcher where he had employed similar tactics for Kallis with Andrew Flintoff when he was the coach of England back in 2007. Sharma went for the full ball first up and Kallis played all across. Dismissing a solid batsman for a duck certainly helped India’s cause.
Meanwhile, Smith fell to Zaheer Khan again. Once again it was the same plan. Drawing him across the crease and then slipping in the inswinger. Realising that the ball was started to swing under slightly overcast conditions, Dhoni went to Mohammed Shami immediately and he found the edge of JP Duminy.
AB De Villiers had not faced Shami in 20 balls early on and the right-hander’s seam position was angled towards slips but the ball jagged back and De Villers was late on the shot to be trapped leg-before. It was brilliant bowling and superb captaincy.
India bowlers turned the tide not only through persistent line and length but the secret for success was in not dishing out ‘four’ balls. India have certainly made their own luck made the Test into an intriguing contest.
South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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