Cricket: Deciphering South Africa’s woes with spin in India

Image Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

Team India have been on a roll having won 11 consecutive series at home, essentially making it a fortress. The Men In Blue have often exploited the opposition’s inability to tackle spin which the subcontinent boasts of, with South Africa bearing the brunt of it.

South Africa and India have engaged in several memorable battles in the peninsula with the hosts possessing the X-factor in the form of spin bowling. Right from Sunil Joshi and Anil Kumble in the 90s to the fearsome Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin during the recent times, spin has always been the factor to which the Proteas failed to procure an antidote to.

South Africa’s dubious record against spin reached its speak during their last tour where a famed line-up comprising of greats such as Hashim Amla and Ab de Villiers were hapless against spin. The third test in Nagpur was the lowest point with the side only managing to score 264 runs across both the innings.

Image Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

The Proteas’ core issue against the Indian pitches is often their lack of instant adaptation. After being used to play on fiery, bouncy surfaces of the Bullring, the predicament of switching to the dry surfaces of India can be quite a task. Such a change in surfaces requires a lot of application which the 2015 World Cup semi-finalists have immensely lacked as the side takes quite a while to settle into Indian rank turners.

Another factor apart from the technical aspect is the concept of fear that the side have imparted upon themselves. Playing spin with a mind plagued with fear can often cause a lapse in judgement which can prove to be costly.

Moreover, a further pressing concern is the lack of quality spinners that The Proteas possess in their domestic setup. The lack of spinners in the setup affects the preparation which ultimately shows in the result. Nicky Boje, Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir and now Keshav Maharaj are only the prominent spinners to have emerged out of the team in recent times.

There is however hope for the Proteas with the side eventually getting used to the conditions. The prime example being their latest tour in 2015, where despite getting mangled for 78 in Nagpur, the side stuck in for a gruelling 143 overs on a fifth-day snakepit with spinners bowling 100 overs of those. Although the result was not optimum, the approach and temperament was on point.

With the Proteas having dealt with spin in Vizag in a satisfactory manner despite a seven-fer by Ashwin, their true test lies in Pune, a venue where India last tasted a home defeat.

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