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Flat-track bullies flattened at Durban!
by NT Shiv Kumar
Nov 22, 2006
India’s much vaunted batting lineup scaled new depths of mediocrity at the Kingsmead today, capitulating to a lively seam bowling display by the South Africans who did it in style decimating India to a sub 100 total. It was not the 157 run defeat that exposed the glaring batting deficiencies but the manner of dismissals of the specialist batsmen clearly amplified the reality that there is no class and character beyond Tendulkar and Dravid in the current batting ranks. And it was no coincidence that even amidst the ruins, the two stood out as the top scorers in the team total that was 28 runs short of Kallis’ innings of 119 not out!

Smith won the toss but lost his wicket quickly to Zaheer Khan who did well in his come back match to grab two early wickets. Kallis anchored the SA innings right thru the 50 overs batting very purposefully to score his first ODI century against India. Indian bowling looked by and large good today with Munaf Patel standing out as the best, Tendulkar bowling a tidy 9 over spell and Agarkar who couldn’t curb his last over generosity in an otherwise impressive display. Harbhajan had a rare off day going for 50 in his quota but Dravid wouldn’t have been unduly worried at the target of 249 on a good batting track. It looked like a good contest on, at the half way stage of the match.

Pollock made it an eminently forgettable debut for Wasim Jaffer who lasted no more than 3 balls- his second consecutive failure as an opener in this tour would certainly do no good to his confidence going into the Test matches. Kaif came in at Number 3 and yet again fluffed a good chance to make a meaningful contribution. In his 123 ODI’s, he has rarely done well against quality seam bowling and his unsure footwork coupled with limited range of shots meant a definite demise with the hard and shiny white new ball. Tendulkar and Dravid steadied the chase briefly but both got out in quick succession to similar deliveries that darted in off the seam to knock not just the stumps but also India out of the match.

The proteas sure sensed their victory at 62 for 4 but would never have expected the abject surrender of the middle order and the tail. Raina and Mongia- who along with Kaif should be told that this is a make or break tour for them - exemplified the traditional inadequacies of Indian batsmen outside the off while the lower order batsmen came in and went as if it was a ritual to attend and finish the formalities. There was not even a semblance of resistance, leave alone fight, and that is a dangerous indicator of the mediocrity that seems to have crept in since the losing streak starting from the second ODI at Kingston- India have won just 2 out of the 12 matches till date.

Dravid had nothing new to add to his post match comments – he continues to look forward to the matches ahead and put the defeats behind him. Will his batsmen care to put the bat behind the ball? They better shape up or ship out.

 
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