Cricket

Proteas have to unravel the Indian spin-trick

The poor run of the prolific Hashim Amla, being cleaned up by a Varun Aaron special in the first innings at Bengaluru, is a cause for despair for South Africa. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

The poor run of the prolific Hashim Amla, being cleaned up by a Varun Aaron special in the first innings at Bengaluru, is a cause for despair for South Africa. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash  

Coach Domingo admits that his side was guilty of handing out ‘freebies’

There were no queues outside the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday; no painted faces, no plastic horns, no groundnut vendors. The Indian and South African teams did not even travel to the ground. The rain, which started early in the morning, simply would not stop — a frustrating, relentless downpour that washed away the third day’s play in this second Test.

With two full days lost to the weather and the forecast for the rest of the week foul, it would be a surprise if the outcome of this game is anything other than a draw.

South Africa will be mildly relieved at such a turn of events. It was undeniably under the cosh on the first day, batsmen flailing and struggling against spin, and bowlers — minus Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander — trying but failing to gain a foothold during 22 fruitless overs. Not to make presumptions, but the visitor, it is fair to say, was not exactly on course to reducing the 1-0 deficit in the series.

India will feel that the rain has thrown South Africa something of a lifeline here. If they are to make something of this Test series, though, Hashim Amla’s men will have to conquer their phobia of India’s excellent spinners.

du Plessis’s miserable run

Faf du Plessis’s dismissals in his last three innings are indicative of a certain panic: the sort that spreads easily through a dressing room when a team is up against it.

du Plessis, who on Test debut in Adelaide batted some eight hours to help salvage a remarkable draw against Australia, has faced a grand total of 13 balls from his three innings in Mohali and Bengaluru.

On Saturday, he blocked out his two deliveries, from R. Ashwin, and hared down the pitch to the third. He did not reach the pitch of the ball, got an inside-edge, and was held at forward-short-leg.

“As soon as I got (Stiaan) van Zyl out, the next batsman in was Faf. I was expecting him to step out a little, so I wanted to drop my length once he did that. That was a conscious effort,” Ashwin said later.

Amla is in a bit of a slump. Since his century over Sri Lanka in Colombo last year, he has managed one Test innings of note — a double hundred against a hapless West Indian side at Centurion in December. In one-day cricket, he has made one score over fifty in his last 15 matches.

It must worry the South African captain who, on his last visit to India in 2010, made 490 runs from his three Test innings. “There is no need to panic,” Russell Domingo, South Africa’s coach, said on Saturday. “We have come with a fresh side. Only Hashim Amla, J-P. Duminy, and A.B. de Villiers have batted in India before. Four of our top seven batsmen haven’t played a Test in India before.”

He admitted that his side was guilty of handing out ‘freebies’, but denied that there was any conscious plan to attack Ravindra Jadeja that unravelled.

“You can’t just sit in your crease always,” Domingo said. “You’ve got to look to score. At times we don’t get the right shots and we get out. When we do attack we are questioned if it is conscious but when we try and block the balls we are again asked why we took the defensive approach. So there is a thin line between the two and today we couldn’t execute a few of our shots.”

Ashwin did not think South Africa had been affected more by the thought of facing him than anything coming out of his hand. Domingo refuted the idea too. “It is not playing on our minds,” he protested. “But he is a quality bowler and he is on top of us now. We have got to find a way. We sure have got a lot of work to do.” That much is true.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:05:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/proteas-have-to-unravel-the-indian-spintrick/article7884536.ece

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