'Scarred and scared' South Africa afraid of Johnson

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 16, 2014 11:39 hrs

Just a couple of months back when the Indian team was having a rather torrid time in South Africa against the South African pace bowlers, the headlines there were pretty mocking about the Indian batsmen.

Words like 'scarred, flat pitch bullies' were bandied about freely. This was after the one-day series where there was a fair bit of bounce and carry in the pitches where those games were played.

Then came the Test match with the red ball, and the Indians led by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli batted with great discipline, determination and gumption to begin with and played some terrific shots as they settled down.

Pujara, of course, was not in the one-day squad then, so had not been seen by the South Africans but 'scarred' was the word used for Kohli since he was seen on TV with an ice pack around his ribs.

That ice pack, by the way, was on the right side of the ribs which indicated that he had played too soon at the ball and missed it and was not too late. It is nothing new for the home media to bolster the cause of their own team by trying to wage a psychological verbal and printed attack on the visiting teams.

Of course, we in India are different, as we, for various reasons, look to boost the visiting teams and show how unbiased we are by having a go at our own players.

Be that as it may, to see how the South Africans were bounced out in the first Test with some of their players sent to hospital was quite ironic, though, of course, nobody wants a player to be seriously hurt.

What that first Test and the pitch preparation for the second Test has shown is that when it comes to protecting the home teams’ interests, there is no difference between the teams playing international cricket.

Taking home advantage is natural and so it’s not surprising to see the 'scarred and scared' South Africans prepare a dead pitch for the second Test of the series to stave off the deadly Mitchell Johnson.

The week, though, belonged to the New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, who became the first Kiwi player to score a triple century in Test cricket.

It was something that the Kiwis were desperate for, since they were the only top eight Test playing nation who did not have anybody in the triple centurion club.

McCullum’s was an extraordinary innings, as he curbed his natural attacking instincts to ensure that he batted long enough to stop India from levelling the series.

 The key to succeeding as a batsman in Test cricket is to be more selective about which shots to play against which bowlers on what type of wickets.

If it means putting some favourite shots in the dressing room then so be it, for therein lies the greater chance of success. McCullum did just that and not only saved New Zealand but in the process achieved a unique landmark.

For his brilliant triple ton, battling Brendon McCullum is the Ceat International cricketer of the week.  

Professional Management Group

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