India missing Laxman and Ganguly

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MEEK SURRENDER: Once Sachin Tendulkar was castled by Andre Nel, the other Indian batsmen caved in without a fight. Photo: AP
MEEK SURRENDER: Once Sachin Tendulkar was castled by Andre Nel, the other Indian batsmen caved in without a fight. Photo: AP

Allan Donald

It's certainly not gloom and doom for the Indians

The way South Africa went off the blocks in the second one-dayer, especially with the ball, was tremendous. If that's the standard it is going to set, then it's going to be the trend in the Tests as well.

It makes me think that India is a batsman or two short on this trip. It's been unbelievable to me that Laxman has been left out for he is a magnificent player.

Sourav Ganguly is another who must be sitting at home and thinking what wrong he has done. We haven't seen much of Ganguly in the last six to eight months but he is a class player and has been one for some time. As the series goes on, I suspect the Indians will miss Laxman and Ganguly even more.

For the youngsters in the line-up like Suresh Raina, it's a baptism by fire. As an 18-year-old, you might have a world of talent but you got to have enough first-class experience. It's not right to be compared with Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar was an exception, not everyone can be like him. The Indians were caught on the hop batting under the lights. Teams in the past have struggled batting second in Kingsmead. It is not easy to chase down scores at this venue. Even though the pitch has lost its zip, there's a bit of bounce and carry.

That's why perhaps they leave a little bit of grass to help the ball carry. I hope the South Africans do not get carried away by this win and produce green monsters. It's not going to do anyone any good.

The South Africans made good use of the conditions and Shaun Pollock was brilliant as ever. Makhaya Ntini was a foot-and-half short and to be fair, there was a time when the Indian batsmen looked quite comfortable and unthreatened by the pace and bounce.

However, once Charl Langeveldt and Andre Nel were pressed into the attack, they quickly changed the length and the game really swung away from India after it lost Tendulkar and Dravid in three balls.

I must say that Irfan Pathan's omission took me by surprise, for he could have added an extra dimension with the bat. However, the Indians wanted to cut down on their bowling and bolster the batting. Given the kind of talent they have, they could have done better.

Still, I would urge the Indian public to be patient. Every side gets a hiding now and then. It is certainly not gloom and doom for Indian cricket. I think India has the most talented cricketers in the world from 15 and 16 years onwards. The team is too talented to take things lying down.

On the other hand, it's not all hunky-dory for South Africa and the time has come for the selectors to take a call on Herschelle Gibbs. The host is not getting too many starts and the pressure that is being added is crucial. It's nice to see the South African selectors back a great player but there comes a time when you have to take a decision.

I don't think Gibbs is batting too low in the order. When he played against Australia earlier this year, he was in form. Now he is not, and has not been doing well for the past two to three months. He must really be feeling the pressure now. PTI

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