India put up an eminently poor batting display in the second T20 at Cuttack to lose the T20 series with one match to go. Although they had lost the first match as well, at least their batting in that game was memorable. At Cuttack however, it completely fell apart owing to a combination of erratic batting, nonsensical running, and some very tight bowling by the South Africans. It was like back to the 90s as the crowd disrupted the match throwing missiles on to the field. While it was a completely unacceptable behaviour by the crowd, for which they should be punished appropriately, it was an indication of how bad India were. It has been a while since they delivered such a performance in limited overs.
Looking back at India's batting, it seemed they just were not in the frame of mind for a fight. Most of the wickets fell to poor shots and, in a couple of cases, a bad judgement of runs. Shikhar Dhawan played across the line to be trapped lbw. While that is somewhat understandable as India were looking for quick runs, the run out of Virat Kohli definitely wasn't. He went for a quick single when there was never one. Not much later, Rohit Sharma also committed hara-kiri, giving his wicket away in a similar manner. It was a big blow as Rohit was the in-form man and had got a start as well. Clearly, India were underestimating South Africa's fielding prowess.
The Indian innings, in fact, was filled with examples of ungainly strokes. Ambati Rayudu going for a heavy without getting his eye in, and MS Dhoni also trying to hit out when not set. The wicket of Suresh Raina under the circumstances was extremely crucial. Amidst all the carnage, he had managed to get his eye in. With Dhoni and the other stars gone, India needed him to put up some fight. But, even he perished handing out a simple catch. India's lower order is reasonably talented, but on the day, even they seemed lost giving their wickets easily. Although T20 cricket is about slam-bang hitting, sometimes you need to show resistance in this format as well, which India is unable to.
Even as India were abysmal, South Africa were equally incredible, with the ball and in the field. Chris Morris and David Miller came up with game-changing contributions, effecting the run-outs of Kohli and Rohit respectively. Albie Morkel then grabbed his chance on an unlikely comeback by bowling a tight line and being rewarded with three wickets. He also gave away very few runs during his four overs, thus effectively strangling the Indian batting. While Morkel stood out, the overall bowling effort of South Africa was also impressive with Morris, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada all contributing.
Once South Africa had skittled out India for such a low score, they had to be incredibly poor with the bat to lose the match. They were not. Ravichandran Ashwin gave India faint hopes during a superb spell during which he claimed three big South African wickets. But, the Proteas batted with common sense, unlike India earlier in the day. They saw off the threat of Harbhajan Singh from the other end and eased to victory. India could still have made a match of it had there been better support for Ashwin, which clearly wasn't the case. In the end, the crowd behaviour said it all.
-- By A Cricket Analyst