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Indians face uphill task
by Partab Ramchand
Nov 18, 2006
Past record and present form are two very important criteria for passing judgments and on both these counts it is difficult to be optimistic about the Indian team’s chances in the one-day internationals and the Test matches during their tour of South Africa. On the eve of the first ODI to be played on Sunday it is timely to point out the record between the two countries in South Africa spread over three tours is: South Africa 12, India 3.

The deficit record started with the historic path breaking tour of 1992-93 when the Indians were beaten in the one-day series by five matches to two. Four years later in the Standard Bank triangular series India went down to South Africa in the final but on the way to the title clash they suffered the mortification of going down to Zimbabwe, the other team in the fray, in one match while another game with them was tied. Five years later in the Standard Bank triangular series there was no improvement. India as expected entered the final before going down tamely to South Africa. But on the way India, for the first time, were defeated by Kenya, the third team in the competition.

It’s the combination of the pitches and the quality of the opposition that has repeatedly done India in. For the record it will not be out of place to say that South Africa are the only country where India have not even won one Test out of the nine they played. The wickets are pacy and bouncy not exactly the kind that are relished by Indian batsmen. And while it must be said that Indian speedsters have performed quite admirably on the helpful surfaces they have not exactly done as well as the home team bowlers. In any case the South African batsmen have acquitted themselves far more creditably than their Indian counterparts.

Given India’s woeful record abroad – particularly in South Africa as underlined by the facts and figures – it would be best not to expect miracles from the tourists. If at all more proof is required as to why the team will in all likelihood come a cropper a quick look at the present record will provide it. A 4-1 loss in the Caribbean followed by a bottom place finish among three teams in the DLF Cup in Kuala Lumpur followed in turn by elimination at the group stage in the Champions Trophy despite having the advantage of home conditions are a sure recipe for disaster. Against this the South Africans have only recently made it to the semifinals of the Champions Trophy. This has come on top of a series winning performance against Australia at home towards the end of the 2005-06 season including arguably the greatest ever victory in a one day international – the famous Johannesburg run chase that saw South Africa overhaul a total of 434 and win with one wicket and one delivery to spare.

The unhappiest aspect is that the touring side is hardly headed in the right direction. The team looks far from settled thanks to the policy of experimentation carried on relentlessly by an egoistic coach. The captain is yet to assert himself. There are problems right down the line as evidenced even in the opening match of the tour against the Rest of South Africa.

For their part South Africa are not exactly invincible; there are chinks in the armour. But they are still the second ranked team in the world while India has fallen to fifth thanks to a succession of lackadaisical performances. In the ultimate analysis they appear to have a team superior to India’s and it would be a major surprise if the tourists emerge triumphant in the five-match ODI series.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 CricketArchive)
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