India have the batting line-up to chase down any total: Graeme Smith
Former South African captain Graeme Smith has said that India will back themselves to track down any total that they have been asked to score as they have some of the best batsman to help them get to the target.
“Since 2013, India has won more One-Day Internationals when chasing than any other team, hence it will back itself to chase down anything,” Smith wrote in his column for the ICC.
“It's talismans, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, will instil this belief in it. Within its top-order constituents of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, India has three of the most prolific batsmen in One-Day Internationals over the past couple of years,” he added.
“South Africa will have to strike early”
The 34-year-old, who retired from International cricket last year, added that South Africa will know that they will need to make early inroads into the Indian batting line-up and also expected MS Dhoni to get back to his run-making ways, sooner or later.
“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.
“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 former opener wrote.
Talking about India’s bowling attack, the former left-hander said that the fast bowlers put up a disciplined show against Pakistan and cautioned the Proteas batsman from letting the spinning duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja settle into any kind of rhythm in their bowling.
“The Indian bowling attack is currently solid if not spectacular. Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma bowled steadily on Sunday and it will be important not to allow either of Ravichandran Ashwin or Jadeja settle into a rhythm,” Smith added.
“Rahane still unsure of his batting position”
He also felt that Suresh Raina’s return to form is a welcome sign for the Indians and added that Ajinkya Rahne might still be unsure of what exactly his batting position is in the line-up.
“Raina seems to be finding form with the bat at the right time with two consecutive scores of 70 plus. 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.
“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,” the former left-hander wrote.
Smith also expected the South African batting line-up to come good on Sunday, regardless of the kind of field that the Indian skipper sets for them.
“Dhoni will rotate his bowlers astutely and will certainly not be 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,” he said.