The South African cricket team is still copping criticism for not going for a win in the last session of the opening Test at the Wanderers at Johannesburg where they could have gone one-up in the two-match series had they shown a little bit of adventure.
The game ended in a draw with India gaining the bragging rights because South Africa were in prime position to win the Test.
Every move by Graeme Smith will be thoroughly watched in the second Test which commences at the Kingsmead ground in Durban today. Not that Smith should read much into what the pundits feel, but there is a need for him to be aggressive and win the series at the windy venue that will suit his fast bowling arsenal.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni too has a job on hand to go all out and try and win India’s first Test series in South Africa.
Dhoni is naturally aggressive and gets his players to run through a brick wall for him, but he must look more closely at the away-from-home utility of his off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who went wicketless in the Johannesburg Test where he bowled 42 overs. He didn’t appear threatening and quite clearly, he was all at sea while parading his skills.
Sure, the conditions are confronting to a spinner, but Durban will be kinder to the tweakers and since this is the last game of the series, it would be worthwhile for Dhoni to consider replacing Ashwin with Pragyan Ojha or Ravindra Jadeja, who, like Ashwin, can contribute with the bat as well.
Jadeja also has the knack for landing the ball at a particular spot where the batsmen find it awkward. This was witnessed in the home series against Australia where the left-arm spinner bagged 24 wickets.
Ojha’s claims cannot be ignored as well because he was man of the match in the last Test India played before the series against South Africa — against the West Indies at Mumbai.
There is a case for Dhoni to tweak his playing XI a bit. After all, the team is not a winning combination. The captain knows best though. Over to Durban where India won in 2010! Will history repeat itself?