Durban: South African pacer Dale Steyn has warned the Indian team to "expect more aggressive bowling" in the second ODI on Sunday, saying that the visiting batsmen might end up "frightened" by their pace attack.
Fresh from stunning the Men in Blue in the first match at Johannesburg, the fast bowler suggested that his team will not be letting up on their intensity and will be looking to seal the series here. "In India the ball doesn't get higher than the stumps. This is not Mumbai. Here, they cannot score easily in different areas and it is going to be hard to play here. And there is more of that coming on Sunday.
"Hopefully we can have a similar performance [as in Johannesburg] as we did the other night, and we should be able to come through with a victory. It is a massive game for us, we have the chance to seal the series here and we would like to do so," said Steyn.
In the first ODI, Indian bowlers were clueless on a fast and bouncy wicket, as they conceded 358 runs to the Proteas. Thereafter, the Indian batsmen were clueless against the mighty pace of Steyn and company.
In fact, it came as a disappointment to the hosts that they weren't challenged more by the number one side. "Our batsmen are batting really well and in some small way we have really given the Indians a taste of what the conditions are. Our intensity the other night really blew them away. Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin and other batsmen in the end, they didn't look like they wanted to line-up [to bat]," he said.
"Then, I didn't see many of our players walking off the field with bloody fingers or ice packs on ribs. Wanderers can be scary, if you get a full day-night game there. You can inflict pain there, especially on that sort of a wicket. And we were able to do that as a bowling unit. It didn't look like that when they were bowling to us. So it definitely was a wake-up call for the Indians."
When asked specifically, if their bowling attack had managed to frighten the Indian batsmen, Steyn replied: "I would think so. I would definitely like to think so. Even so, South Africa won't be taking their opposition lightly.
"Like MS Dhoni said pre-match, they have been to South Africa a few times and they have played all over the world. So give them a few matches, they should be able to play well and perhaps get ready before the Test matches begin," Steyn said
"Rohit Sharma scored a double hundred, just the other day, even though he couldn't put bat to ball in the last match. MS scored runs, Virat Kohli can bat, Shikhar Dhawan as well. We also showed them that they have a weakness in the middle order. So we want to exploit that a bit more," said Steyn.
From the look of it, the Indian team might have another trying experience on their hands, as the pitch at Kingsmead stadium in Durban almost bore the look of the outfield.
Not to mention, it has been raining consistently here and it will only add to the challenge. For the hosts, it will bring them another wide grin. "I haven't looked at the wicket up close, but from what I saw from the balcony, it looks pretty much like the outfield grass. I am not the one to complain about it though," he joked.
"Over the years this pitch has slowed down and it doesn't offer as much pace as Johannesburg. But conditions look similar at the moment and it does look like rain tomorrow. We might not get a full game. But if we get forty overs, that is a full ODI match, so we will be prepared for whatever the weather throws at us."
Since the pitch is similar to Wanderers, with the conditions adding on, Steyn was asked if he could put a thumb on where the Indian bowling had gone wrong. "They are doing well enough aren't they," he replied, with a smile.
"Though if you seriously look at it, they lack someone who can really bowl with pace up there. They need someone like that. Ishant Sharma is sitting on the sides and he is perhaps someone who can bowl at 140 km/hr. Our batsmen are in really good nick, so you need bowlers who can spin the ball a mile or can bowl quickly." .
"Wanderers didn't offer any turn to Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja the other night, but it did offer something off the deck, pace. And they didn't have any bowlers like that the other night, but we did. So we kind of blew them away. If you don't have that, then you will be struggling in South Africa," Steyn said.
"Tomorrow will decide how far the Indian team has come from Johannesburg, in terms of mental preparation if not actual match practice. Their initiation on this tour has been a tough one and for once South Africa will be hoping to have a better game, for a chance to take the series into the final and third game.
"There are not many high totals in Durban either. It gets tougher to score at the back of the innings. We have been hoping all pitches across South Africa will offer some bounce and not just at Johannesburg. Also it looks like there will be some swing, since this weather doesn't look like going away," he said.
There was only one question remaining to be asked then, with everyone gathered wondering if this high-intensity is the result of pre-tour politics. And Steyn was comfortably side-stepped that bouncer.
"What board room politics? Oh, I don't know. We try to do that all the time when we bowl, we try to do that to every team that comes to South Africa and not just India."