Indians should learn from SA batsmen

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Sunday, March 5, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Dedication, determination, discipline. The 3-Ds so essential for success in any field were displayed in abundance by the South Africans as they took a stranglehold on this match. Dedication to the team's cause; determination to surmount difficult conditions; and disciplining their batting by playing a game different from their natural attacking one accordingly to frustrate the Indian bowlers.

That's what the South Africans did on the second and third day of the Test, ensuring that their rivals were kept on the field in hot conditions that would sap the energy of the fittest of players.

The way was shown by the left-handers, Kirsten and Boje, who, with clever use of the pads, denied the spinners, especially Kumble and Kartik, who found their turn negated as the ball either hit the pads and not the outside edge as would have been the case if the batsmen had been a right-hander.

Not that right-handed batsmen had any more trouble, for the manner in which Kallis and Cullinan played the away-turning ball, making late adjustments, showed the 3-Ds at their best.

Kallis has been quite outstanding; the way he has played with a loose bottom-hand is an object lesson on how to counter the unexpected bouncing and turning ball.

Some people think defence is boring, but it was fascinating to watch Kallis defend against Kumble who really should have had more wickets to his name, but unluckily did not. Murali Kartik bowled better than he did in Mumbai and his willingness to toss the ball up was thankfully not diminished because of the assault on his bowling in the first Test and his length too was good most times here, where he drew the batsman forward and got him committed to the shot.

He still does drop the ball short, particularly after the batsman has struck him for a boundary off the front foot, but he is a quick learner, as was evident in this game.

South Africa also showed flexibility in their approach, as could be seen by the promotion of the left-handed Klusener ahead of Hansie Cronje, having seen how the previous two left-handers did not let their captain down, scoring at a brisk rate and putting on a huge partnership with Kallis. It was his attacking batting that took the pressure off Kallis who could proceed at his own pace. Both were unlucky to miss their hundreds, but it did look as if they had overdone the cautious bit as they entered the 90s and both were out to half-hearted shots.

The application and the patience shown by the South Africans is worth many lessons for the Indian batsmen, some of whom have looked in an unseemly hurry, and they will need to show the same patience if they are hoping to save the match.

So far, there has not been a three-figure innings in the series, and India needs a really big one if they are looking to escape, and not from one but more batsmen.

And yes, there is a lesson for the South Africans too from the Indians, as to how to take the decisions that go against them without resorting to the abhorrent abusing and disrespect that is shown to the opposition.

Professional Management Group

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