South Africa’s pace bowlers expended a lot of energy and effort on a short-pitched attacking strategy against India in the first T20 international at the Wanderers over the weekend and, according to the tourists’ match-winning bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, it was the wrong tactic, based on old stereotypes of Indian batsmen.
India, sent in to bat, were off to a flyer against the new ball, plundering 78 runs in the six powerplay overs, including six fours and four sixes that came from short-pitched deliveries.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan then led India to 203/5 in their 20 overs with his aggressive 72 off 39 balls, which included 24 runs from the pull shot and another 24 from strokes square of the wicket.
“Traditionally India have not been a very good batting side against short bowling, but we attacked very well today, especially in the first six overs. We managed the short ball pretty well, and I don’t think they were able to come with something else,” Bhuvneshwar said after his 5/24 restricted South Africa to 175/9.
Bhuvneshwar gained plenty of reward from bowling a fuller length with numerous variations in line and pace. Proteas captain JP Duminy was not going to be consumed afterwards though by any thoughts that their strategy on the day might have been horribly wrong.
“I don’t think they have played the short ball very well. It comes down to execution of our skills, if we execute a plan well, it’s potentially going to work, but unfortunately with our plans in place, we didn’t execute as well as we’d have liked,” Duminy said.
So the Proteas were basically undone by their utter failure to execute even the wrong game plan correctly. “We need to be free and play our own games, but stick to the game plan.
Every cricketer goes through periods when you have slumps, whether you’re a senior player or a new guy. Unfortunately, quite a few of us are coming up short, including myself.
“We have to find a way to get back up on our feet, there’s no place to hide, we just have to step up,” Duminy said.