Form faces reality check as India lock horns with South Africa at Bullring

MS DhoniMS Dhoni holds a trophy with AB de Villiers ahead of their first One-Day International (ODI) on Thursday. in Johannesburg December 4, 2013. REUTERS

From a distance you might have wondered whether they were players from the same team going through the grind in the nets. Dale Steyn had the customary green helmet and pads on. While on the other side, JP Duminy looked slightly less conservative with his pink pads. In between Steyn and Duminy though, Ryan McLaren had gone for the whole hog, a pink helmet and pads of the same shade.

Incidentally, the lanky all-rounder was the only one fulfilling the brief on the eve of 'Pink Day' to promote breast cancer awareness at the Wanderers on Wednesday morning. The colour depicts universal love but has largely not made a noteworthy presence on the cricket field, except when the West Indians were forced into them during the Packer World Series or when Middlesex who donned it briefly as their T20 colours.

But Thursday will witness AB De Villiers and his team walking out in fully pink apparel for the second time this year in an ODI. And the colossal Wanderers itself was a sea of pink-with everything from hoardings to banners showing it off as it was being set to host the first of three ODIs between the hosts and India. Despite the range of colours on view in the nets, the three South Africans, just like those who had occupied them earlier, seemed collectively intent on showing no mercy to the net bowlers.

The white ball was sent flying into orbit repeatedly, especially by Duminy. The side pole of the net and the solitary stump near the bowling mark didn't receive much love either from Steyn as he smashed both with his bat after a seemingly unsatisfactory stint with the bat - probably a warning for the Indian batsmen come Thursday.

Their generally affable skipper was in all-guns-blazing form too in front of the mike soon after as he addressed the media the backdrop behind him again pink in colour.

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