Tomorrow’s India vs South Africa World Cup is no David vs Goliath clash at the Melbourne Cricket Club, but it’s a game in which India will be tested the most. Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co will have to use every ounce of their ability to beat South Africa at the iconic venue.
In a way, India face a similar situation with South Africa as Pakistan did before the February 15 clash in Adelaide no World Cup win to show. In 1992, Mohammed Azharuddin’s men were outwitted by the World Cup debutants in Adelaide by six wickets. In 1999 at Hove, his team’s total of 253 was not enough to scare Hansie Cronje’s well-oiled outfit, and in the last World Cup, India’s only bump en route their triumph came in the form of the Proteas in Nagpur, where Sachin Tendulkar’s century went in vain.
There is good reason for even a hardcore India fan to be pessimistic about tomorrow’s clash. The South Africans have in their line-up the best batsman in the world AB de Villiers but before he walks in, there is the prolific Hashim Amla, who can be very difficult to dislodge. The victory over Pakistan notwithstanding, India’s bowling is still a concern and the foibles will be more visible against a top-notch outfit. Probably, the spinners hold the key, since pace will not scare the South African batsmen into submission.
India’s batting unit looks in better shape since the Pakistan game, but runs will not be accumulated with same kind of ease because the bowling will be better than what the neighbours dished out and the South Africans will be, as usual, tigerish in the field unless they have an off-day, which can happen in cricket.
Given that South Africa have earned the right to be rated as favourites, Indian fans shouldn’t spend their Sunday evening grieving if the game is lost. There’s no disgrace in losing to a better team, and that’s what South Africa are. Question is, can they be that superior side on the day, an aspect one-day cricket is based on.
All said and done, an entertaining Sunday awaits us.