23 August 2019 02:19 AM

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PARTAB RAMCHAND | 6 JUNE, 2019

Morale Boost Win For the Sterner Tests Ahead

Breathtaking spell by Jasprit Bumrah


It is always good to start with a win. And performing like a well oiled machine the Indian team faced only a few anxious moments before getting the better of a dispirited and injury hit South Africa who are having a nightmarish World Cup.

The batting and bowling performed in unison and overall the team management can have little to complain. The playing of both the wrist spinners was always on the cards given that the opposition was South Africa. Kuleep Yadav and in particular Yuzvendra Chahal did bother the batsmen a great deal with their turn and guile. And up front Jasprit Bumrah showed why he is arguably the best bowler in the game today with a spell that was breathtaking.

Making the ball dart this way and that and mixing the yorkers and bouncers as only he can the Indian pace spearhead gave the batsmen no respite. It was his dream opening spell that dismissed Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock which gave India the initial advantage and thereafter they never really squandered it.

The one little note of discontent would be the fact that India allowed the opponents to rally from 89 for five but with the spinners doing a commendable job the recovery was only partial.

A minor hiccup (54 for two) when the Indians batted was quickly overcome by the brilliance of Rohit Sharma and it would be difficult not to agree with Virat Kohli’s view that all things considered this was his best ODI innings. In the first place India had lost the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli early.

Secondly it was not an easy wicket to bat on. Third he was so cool and calm and composed and while he did get some support from KL Rahul and MS Dhoni it was Rohit who nursed the innings in such an exemplary manner that India were never really in any danger of falling short of the target. Sterner tests await the Indian team as the next three matches are against Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan but the victory will boost the confidence of Kohli and his men.

And what about South Africa? Well just a week into a competition scheduled to last six and a half weeks South Africa’s campaign has virtually ground to a halt. Even the many detractors of South African cricket when it comes to the big stage would not have envisaged such a scenario.

The Proteas were rated as having a good chance of making the semifinals but with their third straight loss their top priority right now will be to see that they don’t finish among the bottom two teams in the league stage.

Theoretically South Africa may still have a chance of qualifying if they win all the six remaining matches. But even then much will depend on the NRR and at the moment South Africa haven’t done very well in this department. More to the point however does the side have it in them to accomplish such a successful run?

The manner in which they have played so far they look only a pale shadow of their predecessors who made it to the semifinals of the World Cup four times losing either on technicalities or very narrowly.

Sure South Africa has had more than their share of injury problems which have ruled out in quick succession Anrich Nortje, Dale Steyn and finally Lungi Ngidi. But they still have a good side which is a blend of youth and experience. One wouldn’t expect a line-up that includes players of the calibre of Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, Jean-Paul Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorious to go down without a fight.

The team has failed in all departments of the game and that is something you don’t associate with South Africa. Their cricketers have traditionally been fierce fighters but this is one quality that is sadly missing from their current campaign.

The eyes of South African cricket followers will now be on the team’s next match against West Indies on June 10. Can they work out a revival with a victory in that game? They can take inspiration from Pakistan’s comeback at the 1992 World Cup. In a not dissimilar situation Pakistan on that occasion had won just one of their first five matches losing three with one no-result. They were down and virtually out but they won their last three group matches, squeaked past Australia and West Indies to enter the semifinal and went on to win the trophy.

Can South Africa now perform a similar feat?

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