Monday 9 December 2013 

Match Point: South Africa Take 2-0 Lead

Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock has impressed our correspondent and plenty of others with his brace of centuries
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

In a brand new feature, Chetan Narula looks at the key points from the second One-Day International between South Africa and India in Durban, where the hosts took a 2-0 series lead in the three-match series.

At Kingsmead, the Proteas scored 281 runs in a rain-curtailed 49-over a side match, and then dismissed India for just 134 runs.

Contest of the Day

For this young Indian team, this tour is all about learning, particularly when they have had no practice ahead of the three-match ODI series. The pace and bounce at Johannesburg was too much for their bowlers to handle, and the batsmen got away with any blame, because chasing 359 on that pitch was impossible. The need of the hour was for the Indian bowling attack to get it right.

Possibly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni erred in his selection at Johannesburg, going with two swing bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma bowl at 130-odd km/hr.

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel showed that you need express pace here in South Africa. That was rectified in the form of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma coming in, and it worked wonders for them in the second ODI.

Dhoni knew the strengths of his bowlers and changed them around as per the situation demanded. Getting Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli to bowl nine overs, before the 30-over mark, was a great move. The batsmen weren't looking for runs then and they couldn't get the momentum going, especially with AB de Villiers getting out cheaply.

Thereafter, Quinton de Kock was out early after his hundred, as was Hashim Amla. Only the 20 runs given away by Yadav in his final over stung a bit, otherwise this was a great performance by the Indian bowling, coming out on top of the Proteas' batting after suffering in just one match.

On a pitch that didn’t afford as much pace and bounce to the pacers, India had a chance to get one back in the series. And they let it go.

Batsman of the Day

Only two batsmen did the run-scoring on this day, with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock ringing out centuries. It was the latter though walking away with his second man-of-the-match award on the run, just like his ODI hundreds, who is now the central talking point in South African cricket.

Let us start with his age, and the fact that he has belied it, with these two magnificent hundreds. He has been patient, waited for the bad balls, paced his innings, and done it all two times in a row now. His run-scoring has to be witnessed in summation with Graeme Smith leaving the South Africa ODI squad ahead of the second match.

They have been building towards the 2015 World Cup for some time now and it is a no-brainer that de Kock has done the needful. His stroke-making apart, all he needs now is to gain experience, and these two centuries will help assure that he gets a long run at the top of the order now.

Smith's ODI career might have just come to an end, and that is a huge deal, considering the great role he has played for the Proteas ever since he took over the captaincy from Shaun Pollock at a very young age.

Bowler of the Day

It is tough to look past Dale Steyn when he is all fired up. Running in hard, looking to do some damage with his opening spell, looking to exploit that ‘fear’ he talked about in the pre-match conference.

Yet, Mohammad Shami gets ahead on this one, and only because he has stood out among the ruins for the Men in Blue. Six wickets in two matches, while other Indian bowlers have struggled around him, put Shami far out ahead. He has bowled with pace, and controlled the ball well in doing so, for accuracy is vital in these conditions.

A solitary positive for his team, that too on his first visit here, is not too bad for young Shami.

Moment of the Day

It was when Steyn had just dismissed Shikhar Dhawan for a duck. Virat Kohli came to the crease. The build-up was intense - Steyn looked to rile the Indians before the match and Kohli had just wafted his comments aside. This was the moment of truth though.

Steyn ran in, bowled short, a screamer, and Kohli got down just in time. It was crystal clear. Steyn’s biggest target this series is Kohli. And Kohli will not back down, if his mini-display in Johannesburg is any evidence. Order popcorn!

Match Point

The game turned when Lonwabo Tsotsobe got Kohli. The Indian vice-captain has the swagger and the shots to defy this South Africa pace battery, all he needed to do was play for time. On this instance, he looked to guide the ball down to third man and opened the face of his bat. The delivery moved away just a touch, and the additional pace meant that it took a nick on its way to the keeper. Kohli was gone for duck, and the run-chase was dead.

© Cricket World 2013

 
Fixtures & Results

5th December: 1st ODI, Johannesburg
RSA 358-4 beat IND 217 by 141 runs
8th December: 2nd ODI, Durban
RSA 280-6 beat IND 146 by 134 runs
11th December: 3rd ODI, Centurion
RSA 301-8 v IND - no result, rain
18th-22nd December: 1st Test, Johannesburg
IND 280 & 421 drew with RSA 244 & 450-7
26th-30th December: 2nd Test, Durban
RSA 500 & 59-0 beat IND 334 & 223 by 10 wickets