Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team would back itself to chase down any target, and billed the upcoming cricket World Cup tie against the Men in Blue as a contest between the Proteas bowling attack and Indian batting line-up.
Defending champions India lock horns with South Africa in a high-voltage match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
“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 ICC.
He added: “It’s talismans, MS Dhoni and Virat Kholi, will instil this belief in it. 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, who led South Africa in 149 ODIs with 92 wins and 51 defeats, felt Suresh Raina was getting his form back at the right time.
“Raina seems to be finding form with the bat at the right time with two consecutive scores of 70 plus. (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.”
The South African great was also not too worried about India skipper Dhoni’s form with the bat.
“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.”
He called the Indian bowling attack solid.
“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 Ravichandaran Ashwin or Jadeja settle into a rhythm.
“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,” said Smith.