What failed India: Was it placid pitch or the spinners?

Published: Sunday, March 30, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Chennai: Was it the pitch or the two-pronged spin attack of Team India that failed to pull off a victory in the first Test against South Africa at the normally spin-friendly M A Chidambaram stadium here? In both innings, the Indian spin duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh proved to be of no threat to the Proteas.

Though supported by a hardworking pace attack, especially Sreesanth, the Indian spinners were unable to even tie-up an end and create some pressure on South Africa.

Kumble was particularly disappointing and one got the impression that the South African batsmen were pretty settled against him.

Kumble took only three wickets in the Test till lunch on the final day, which is far below his par.

However, the Indian players, especially Dravid, was quick to defend their bowlers, who were finding it hard to take wickets even on the final day.

''Usually Chennai pitch assists spinner from the third but this time the preceding rains would have made the wicket harder,'' Dravid said.

Pitch curator Parthasarathy ahead of Chennai Test said the wicket would assist the spinners from the third day onwards.

Though the Indian spin duo shared seven wickets between them and gave away as many as 270 runs, which is exactly half of South Africa's total during the first innings, they could not complete the job in the second innings.

On the other hand, the South African batsmen, especially Hashim Amla and Neil Mckenzie, handled the Indian spin attack very well in both innings, after their recent successful tours of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Amla, who scored 152 in the first innings, was unfortunately run out. Otherwise, he might have scored more. In the second innings he played agressively especially against the spin bowlers to score 81.

One day before the match, South African wicketkeeper-batsman Mark Boucher clearly cautioned the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, that his team was prepared to go on the attack.

''In a Test match, you have to get a mix of defence and attack. If the time arises we will attack the Indian bowling a little bit more to put pressure on bowlers,'' Boucher said.

As the second Test starts from April 3 at Ahmedabad, the Indian think tank has to work out some strategy to restrict the onslaught of the South African batsmen. The pitch there has already been projected as sporting.


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