Death by Pace: Part 2

South Africa v/s India

2nd ODI, Durban
The Indian ODI team can do a lot better than losing 10 wickets in 35 overs. But looking at their record in lands like South Africa, Australia- their performance in this ODI series has been par for the course. Forget about improving on their previous disasters, they have done the impossible- they have gone against the flow once again, and made a mockery of the ICC ODI rankings…again. They were supposed to be the best ODI team in the world- consisting of players without fear or respect for reputations. Their batsmen were consistently nullifying their bowlers’ pedestrian efforts…but this was not only on home soil. 3 overseas series wins contributed to this air of invincibility. Best chasers, best fielders, best openers…
In a matter of 4 days, everything has come crashing down. This is much like their overhyped tour to England when they were the no. 1 TEST team in the world- only to go on to get whitewashed 4-0 against the run of form. The problem with this Indian team and many in the previous years has been their tendency to lose form together- to fail together, give up together and lose together. This is ‘team’ play in the purest sense of the word, but not something their fans will approve of. Weeks ago, the entire team was in top form (excluding Ishant Sharma), and now, their famed top 3 have been humiliated by the SA quicks over 2 games- exposing the untested middle order to alien situations. This is exactly why the likes of Sachin and Dravid became icons over the years. It was their ability to stand up in such conditions, when the rest of the team was clueless, and show a lot of fight and guts- irrespective of their experience or big match practice. They defied the best of them on various pitches in ODIs and Tests, when the others fell around them. We took their greatness for granted back then. It could be premature to comment on this young Indian team abroad, but their attitude in this series so far has not left much to our imagination. Their bowlers have been consistently average of course, but it has been their batting failures that have been highlighted more. This is only natural because it is their strongest aspect- and if this fails, the chinks in their mental armour become all the more visible. Not much is expected of their bowlers except Shami- who is atleast taking enough wickets to show for his recently acquired reputation. 
Dhawan and Kohli went without scoring, and even though Rohit started positively, he fell to an ambitious shot and a sharp catch from Amla. That was it, because Raina came in and began hopping onto his back foot to even the spinners- illustrating the levels of fear in his mind. He was tentative in his crease and his first instinct was to go back to even the fuller balls- they made him dance and weave, and finally he fell for a lucky 33. Rahane was a victim to a terrible decision, but the no-DRS only comes back to bite the Indian team and their almighty management in their backsides. 
Dhoni came and went, trying his best to delay proceedings by falling on the 119th ball of the innings- hoping that the rain took the players off to prevent a legal game. Jadeja was the usual flash in the pan. This was after De Kock scored his 2nd consecutive match-winning century, and that man Amla went on to become the fastest man to reach 4000 ODI runs. De Villiers failed for once, and India managed to pull things back towards the end of the SA innings. This was in vain, because the series now belongs to SA already, with India playing for nothing but respect and pride in the 3rd game- both of which they need ever so desperately. 
With Zaheer back in the test side, one can’t help but imagine the extent of damage Steyn might inflict on the likes of Vijay. Yadav, Shami and Ashwin need to pull up their socks to put on a fight. They need to convince their batters that they were good enough to keep them in the game. Kohli will not be kept quiet for too long, and the long home season might just be wearing off on their over confident minds. 
The giants need to wake up, and fast, before this turns into yet another overseas debacle. 

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