Much like Mitchell Johnson’s verbal-barbs that have been the perfect prelude to his fiery spells in the Ashes, Dale Steyn too guardedly joined the act while hinting at India’s batting vulnerability against high-quality fast bowling.
To a pointed query on whether he thought that the Indian batsmen were a touch frightened, Steyn said: “I would say so, I would definitely say so. It’s not Mumbai where the ball doesn’t get higher than the stumps but they are not the number one ODI side for no reason. Give them a week or two, one or two more games and they will start getting used to it before the Tests.”
Elaborating upon India’s chinks during the pre-match press briefing, Steyn said: “These guys can perform on their day. Rohit (Sharma) scored 200 just the other day. Even though he couldn’t lay bat on ball the other night, he is still a good player. M.S. Dhoni showed how good he is and Virat Kohli can bat and he is a good friend. I think our intensity blew them away and we showed that they have a weakness in the middle order. (Suresh) Raina, R. Ashwin, Yuvraj (Singh) and the other batters in the end, didn’t really look like they wanted to get in line. So hopefully we can exploit that. But they have batters who can score like Shikhar (Dhawan). We are prepared for that too and everyone is a target.”
Steyn also pointed out that the Indian bowlers lack that extra pace to hustle the South Africans. “They have got Ishant sitting on the side and he is one guy who can bowl over 140kmph,” Steyn said.
Later, Virat Kohli paid his respects to Steyn the bowler while rebutting the latter’s ‘Indians-are-frightened’ insinuation.
“Steyn is a world-class bowler and we all know that. To bowl three maiden overs when we are chasing 359 is a skill that is very rare. To see him swing the ball from middle stump and get it past the off-stump actually the fifth off-stump, was something very rare because not many can swing the ball like he does. All you can do as a batsman is to try and upset his length and that is why when I went in, for the fourth ball, I stepped out and I wanted to hit him over the in-field. Otherwise if you keep defending, you keep getting beaten. I don’t think anyone in this Indian team is frightened of anything. Regardless of the loss the other day, you didn’t see anyone sort of closing their eyes or swinging their bats around,” Kohli said while adding that the Indians will come up with a better performance in the second ODI on Sunday. — Special Correspondent