With South Africa’s highly-anticipated World Cup clash against India lingering just over the horizon, former Proteas captain Graeme Smith has warned the national team that the Indians are capable of chasing down any target.
“Since 2013, India has won more One-Day Internationals when chasing than any other team, hence [they] will back [themselves] to chase down anything,” Smith wrote in his column for icc-cricket.com. “It’s talismans, MS Dhoni and Virat Kholi, will instil this belief in [them]. Within its top-order constituents of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Vitrat Kohli, India has three of the most prolific batsmen in One-Day Internationals over the past couple of years.”
Smith also noted that it is good to see batsman Suresh Raina regaining his touch with the bat at the right time.
“Raina seems to be finding form with the bat at the right time with two consecutive scores of 70 plus,” he wrote. “[Ravindra] Jadeja has a fair average and healthy strike-rate but has historically fared poorly on quicker tracks and has been struggling for form coming into the tournament.
“[Ajinkya] Rahane may still be trying to figure out his role in the batting line-up. Normally an opener, in his 47 One-Day Internationals the only time he has batted below position 4 was on Sunday against Pakistan when he came in at No.7.
“Dhoni is currently going through a lean patch, I am hesitant to read too much into this as he has proved his match-winning and finishing abilities time and time again over the past 11 years.
“The Proteas will know the importance of striking up front early so not to allow the top three to set a platform for the middle-order.”
Contrary to the opinions of numerous pundits and former players, Smith believes that India have a “solid” bowling unit.
“The Indian bowling attack is currently solid if not spectacular,” he wrote. “Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma bowled steadily on Sunday and it will be important not to allow either of Ravichandaran Ashwin or Jadeja to settle into a rhythm.
“Dhoni will rotate his bowlers astutely and will certainly not subscribe to the conventional in the field. Nevertheless, South Africa’s top six will back themselves to score the bulk of the runs, be it setting or chasing.”