The Post

Minds set on India/SA series

ROBBIE NAIDOO Naidoo has been a sports journalist and writer for more than three decades. He was former sports editor at and wrote the “On the ball” column during a period spanning 15 years. Naidoo is a squash player, and also a former representative of t

I HAVE probably been asked a hundred times why India lost the 2023 Cricket World Cup (CWC). And the answer for me is simple: blame the Indian Premier League (IPL).

You’re probably asking why – because the IPL is seen as the main factor that has led to the overall improvement of Indian cricket. Yes, it has, but if George Bailey, the chief Aussie selector, hadn’t spent five seasons at Chennai Super Kings, he would not have known about the finer Indian tactics, and the doctoring of wickets.

Ironically, CWC23 was the quintessential example of how the IPL didn’t benefit Indian cricket. In this case, the Indians imported black soil from Orissa and used it in Ahmedabad, a region with red soil.

This resulted in the wicket not breaking up, the ball keeping low, and the wicket evening out after nightfall.

A normal international team would not know this and would have chosen to bat had they won the toss. Bailey, with his five years at the Chennai Super Kings, called their bluff and the rest is history. And that was bold, coming from a team that lived by the motto “nine times out of 10 you bat first and the 10th time, you think about it and bat”.

But the World Cup is long forgotten and minds are set on the series between India and South Africa from December 10 to January 7. This includes two Test matches and three T20s and ODIs with the first T20 at Kingsmead this Sunday. It’s mouthwatering stuff.

I say this because South Africa has never hosted a post IPL Indian team as strong as this – and I mean across all formats.

Thanks to the IPL, India have an ultra-aggressive batting line-up, including the likes of Yashasvi Jaisval, Rinku Singh, Tilak Verma and Ruturaj Gaikwad. If people thought Indians didn’t have the killer instinct, think again when encountering these guys.

They lit up the IPL and expect them to come hard against the Proteas in the shortest format.

We also all know about the Indian

ODI and Test squads after CWC23 and Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami are well geared to take equal advantage of bounce and seam.

What would you do if you were a South African groundsman? I guess (and the recent cricket and rugby World Cups have shown us this) history repeats and you will have to proceed with the tried and tested.

And this means preparing wickets that negate Indian batsmen. You will have to rely on the fact that South

African batsmen handle pace better at home and trust that your bowlers will fire. This being the case, expect green tops and Indian batsmen having to fend off deliveries chest high.

Ultimately, the T20s are going to be a toss-up, and the Test and ODI series will depend on who is able to extract more out of bouncy and seamy tracks.

With the way both teams handle the new ball, anything can happen. One thing is certain though, don’t expect many hundreds.

Ultimately, cricket is about wickets. Let’s wait and see.






African News Agency