Cape Town: South African pace bowling has been ripped apart as never before - thanks to a crafty Saurav Ganguly contemptuously dispatching the seemingly deceptive delivery over the ropes for mighty sixes.
The bowlers have tried it all - coming over the wicket or steaming from around the stumps. They have bowled short or pitched it up. They even resorted to sledging when nothing seemed to work. But all these ploys by the South African pace bowlers have failed to curb the onslaught by the Indian skipper, who till the other day was struggling to regain his batting form. "His timing is freakish," says South African coach Graham Ford, shaking his head in disbelief. "He has been giving us trouble everywhere - be it in India, Nairobi or now here in South Africa." The South African bowling attack is on the boil because Ganguly is on rampage. They can't bowl to him without being hit for sixes. The arc of sixes now extends from squarish third man to fine leg. The only place left, a spiralling hit over the keeper's head, was tried too but ended up in a running catch for the slip fielder at Wanderers. The Indian captain averages the best among contemporary batsmen against South Africa and has also hit the most hundreds, three by the last count. Romantics are imagining the extent of his run-making landscape, had the knocks at Centurion and the one at East London the other night not been terminated to a suspect catch and the mounting pressure of run-rate. "His strength is he doesn't miss-hit too many and doesn't get caught when he comes down the track," muses captain Shaun Pollock. "He hits off a length which is a bigger worry." Pollock has been at the receiving end of Ganguly's willow power the most, finding his short deliveries slashed beyond the point fence and the pitched up stuff deposited into the sight screen or in the straight-field stands. In three games, Pollock, one of world's top fast bowler, with 203 One-day wickets at an amazing economy rate of 3.77 per over, has been smashed for six sixes by the elegant Indian. "Sure, we are not bowling half-volleys and long-hops and that I guess is the best we can do," says Pollock resignedly. "He takes the risk and comes down and has been middling it at this stage and we just hope it turns for us at some stage." South Africa tried bowling chest high deliveries to Ganguly after the 15-over stage but Pollock is not convinced if that alone is an answer to the problems posed by Ganguly. "It is plain to see we can't do it everytime, all the time. We need to work out a better strategy than to rely on this method alone." Jacques Kallis, now a frontline fast bowler, says when a Ganguly onslaught is on, the best a fast bowler can do is to keep his cool. "The best you can hope is to trust your strength and just hang in there. Sticking to the basics is the only option." Extras:
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