India have started an overseas tour with a flat foot on most of the occasions. At a period when practice games have become more of a joke, the trouble has been more for India when they have been exposed to unfamiliar conditions on the first day of a Test match.
Going by these, the ODI series before the Tests was seen as a golden opportunity to get adjusted to the conditions in the Rainbow Nation. Even before the Test series has started the South African bowlers have won the first half of the mental battle by rattling the Indian batsmen.
Instead of feeding to the Indian batsmen and giving them opportunity to settle in, the Protean bowlers have done exactly the same. The bouncy tracks and some fierce bowling has sowed some doubt in the Indian batsmen’s minds about their ability to play the fast bowlers.
Going by the history, the Indians are used to playing on dead tracks, have taken sometime to adjust when the ball kicks up off the track and going by the ODIs, the conditions will only be tougher in the Tests.
Even though South African coach Russell Domigo has indicated that there were all chances that team would go in with seven batsmen, the four pacers are enough to create trouble for India. The fiery opening spell in the first ODI looked like a pre-planned one.
As Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma struggled, the first battle between the teams was won. The Indian batsmen would have been thinking about it even before getting into the middle. The affect was evident during the second ODI, when the bounce was lesser but the Indian batsmen played some uncharacteristic poor shots.
These were the results of South African bowlers saying Indians that they were not welcome there. So Indian’s batsmen’s first session will be the most crucial period. They surely know that Steyn and Co. are going to come hard at them. Even if they survive the first session without bothering about the score they would be on par with the opposition bowlers.
Knowing Steyn, it would be hard to survive the first session while batting. The Indians will surely know what is coming their way. If they know what to expect then they surely would have prepared for it, but would they have? We will have to wait until Dec. 18 when the first Test will be played in Johannesburg.