JOHANNESBURG (TIP): There have been instances in recent past when scores well above 300 have looked vulnerable. The Indian bowling attack has looked listless, especially with the field restrictions coming into play in the back end of the innings and the South Africans know all about it. “India are certainly not the best bowling attack in the world. We won’t be underestimating them, but it’s an area where we can get on top of them,” South African skipper AB de Villiers upped the ante on Tuesday. What has let the Indian skipper MS Dhoni down time and again is the lack of penetration in his pace attack towards the end. The yorkers have been far and few in between, and teams, despite losing wickets, have been able to step on the gas at the death.
The biggest culprit has been Ishant Sharma, who went for 30 in one over in a game against Australia, and hasn’t played an ODI since. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s lack of pace reduces his efficacy in the slog overs while Umesh Yadav is a little erratic. His only ray of hope is Shami Ahmed, who showed that he can bowl inswinging yorkers in Test matches, but doing it under pressure of ODI death overs is another matter. In such a situation, it becomes crucial for India to pick up early wickets and that’s what the skipper stressed on. “With the two new-ball rule and the conditions in favour of fast bowlers, it’s important how you play the first 10 overs. If a side has wicket in hands, getting a par-plus score in the last 15 is not difficult,” Dhoni said.
The bowlers did that quite consistently during the Champions Trophy in England in June and de Villiers, despite the jibe, was on the guard. “The batsmen sometimes think they can get on top of this attack very easily and that’s when these guys tend to take a lot of wickets,” the skipper said. The one crucial component of the Indian attack that isn’t getting too much attention in the context of the pacer-friendly tracks of South Africa is spin. But Dhoni, deep down, feels that his spinners are better off in ODIs abroad than they are at home. “They struggle when there’s dew in the ground,” the skipper said, hinting at daynight ODIs in India. He is probably taking hope from R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’s record on tracks where there has been some bounce.