Reality check for India after South Africa loss

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters - More than the snapping of India's World Cup unbeaten run, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be worried by the cavalier attitude of his batsman and lack of bowling sting in their defeat by South Africa.

While the co-hosts managed to eke out a thrilling tie against England in Bangalore, they finally wilted under pressure on Saturday in Nagpur as South Africa halted their unbeaten run in the World Cup with a thrilling three-wicket victory.


What will worry Dhoni the most is that their below-par performances have both come against test-playing nations England and South Africa who offer the kind of test they will need to overcome if they are to come through the final on April 2.

The bowlers have received most of the flak so far in the tournament for their insipid performance in the win over Bangladesh and England and the loss to South Africa was no different with India again failing to defend a steep target.

The pacemen, barring the experienced Zaheer Khan, have failed to inspire and the spinners, including Harbhajan Singh, have not been up to the mark either although he played better against Graeme Smith's men in Nagpur.

The fact that Yuvraj Singh, who was once called a "pie chucker" for his gentle left-arm spin by England's Kevin Pietersen, is the highest wicket-taker among the 1983 winners' tweakers says it all.

Not that Dhoni has too many options to choose from though, as he admitted on Saturday.

"Unfortunately I don't think I can change too much in the first 15 overs or the last 20 overs. You play with your best bowlers and they try their best to get wickets," Dhoni told reporters.

"Ideally, you should restrict runs or pick wickets. In the sub-continent, if you get wickets you can restrict runs. But it's a tricky one. Everybody is trying their best and hopefully we will do better."

Batting had given India their bragging rights before the start of the showpiece event but the collapses against England and South Africa have raised quite a few eyebrows as well.

On both occasions, the talent-packed line-up caved in to get bundled out inside the 50 overs after starting off in promising fashion thanks to Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

While they lost the last seven wickets for 33 runs against England, Saturday saw an unbelievable batting collapse when they lost no less than nine wickets for just 29 runs.