As India progress to a must-win encounter at Durban, Abhijit Banare looks at India’s past record at the venue and what’s on offer.
The ‘Green Mamba’ will be alive once again as South Africa’s pace battery will be hungry to test the Indian batting yet again on a track which is green, juicy and more venomous. To make things worse for India, the conditions are overcast.
After the humiliating defeat at Johannesburg, the conditions at Durban would have been the last thing the Indians would have asked for in a must-win encounter. Indians have had a fair share of victories and losses at this venue, but nothing impressive against the hosts.
For a long time since 1992, Indians fared terribly at this venue. This includes the 1996 Test where the Sachin Tendulkar-led Indian team collapsed against the pace of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock for 100 and 66.Only one Indian batsman got into the 20s in both innings — Rahul Dravid with 27.
India’s first victory at the venue came against England in the 2003 World Cup. But the turnaround came in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 with an aggressive young side led by MS Dhoni; India won four of the five matches played at Durban. It was at this venue that Yuvraj Singh hit those six sixes in an over. The southpaw looks a lot different from the player he once was, struggling to find his form and battling a weakness against short deliveries. The barrage is not going to stop at Durban.
Against South Africa
In the four One-Day Internationals (ODIs) India have played against South Africa at Durban, the visitors have lost all — the latest in January 2011, where they were outclassed by 135 runs. India’s only success against South Africa came in the 2006 Test.
As mentioned earlier, the green wicket will be a tougher assignment for the Men in Blue. After being troubled by the swing in the first match, India can expect generous dosage of pace and bounce at Durban. Dale Steyn mentioned in the pre-match press conference, “Over the years, this pitch has slowed down and it doesn’t offer as much pace as Johannesburg. But conditions look similar at the moment and it does look like it may rain tomorrow. We might not get a full game. But if we get 40 overs, we will be prepared for whatever the weather throws at us.”
While Durban, based on statistics doesn’t give India much chance, it’s the situation and mindset that plays an important role on the day of the game. The confidence of the present Indian team is not now — overtly at least — despite the loss. On one side, Steyn spared no mercy and went on to comment that the pace had rattled India. Virat Kohli was in no mood to take it lightly responding that this Indian team is not frightened of anyone. A hundred at Perth seems to have instilled loads of confidence playing on bouncy wickets. The value of a pre-match pitch report may just be a negligible video clip when players like Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are on song. Among the three, Rohit will be keen to get over the tentative outing at Johannesburg.
Speaking of pace, Vernon Philander will be making a comeback and will add more power to the already formidable South African attack. At the end of the day, if there’s anything to be positive about, Durban is fondly referred as ‘the largest Indian city outside India’. The visitors can surely expect to feel like home.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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