In a rather expected manner, South Africa crushed India at both Johannesburg and Durban to win the three-match ODI series 2-0. Even before India got a hang of the conditions, they had lost the series. As India reflect on another disaster away from home, we look at defining factors that clinched the series for the Proteas.
Quinton de Kock’s stellar performance: The young South African wicket-keeper has been the standout performer for the hosts in the series. He smashed 135 off 121 balls with the aid of 18 fours and three sixes at Jo’burg and 106 off 118 deliveries while hitting nine fours at Durban. In both the matches, de Kock looked absolutely at ease against all the Indian bowlers. His twin centuries mean that he is on his way to establishing himself as South Africa’s opener in the shorter formats. de Kock has all the shots in the book, and has put Graeme Smith’s ODI career in jeopardy.
Excellent opening stands for South Africa: MS Dhoni inserted the Proteas in to bat in both the games after winning the toss, hoping that his bowlers would get him the early wickets. But de Kock and Hashim Amla ensured that nothing of that sort happened, putting India on the back foot right away. At Jo’burg, they added 152 inside 30 overs with Amla contributing 65 off 88 balls. Even in the relatively tough condition at Durban, the openers put on 194 in 35.1 overs with Amla making exactly 100 from 117 balls. The opening stands in both the games ensured that India never gained the upper hand while bowling.
Great late-order hitting: South Africa’s batting overall was brilliant. After the openers set a great platform for the innings in the opening ODI, skipper AB de Villiers and JP Duminy smashed the ball to all parts to take South Africa to an imposing total. AB’s 77 came off merely 47 balls while Duminy’s unbeaten 59 took only 29 balls. At Durban, India fought back well after another excellent opening stand, but the Proteas got 20 runs in the last over of the innings, which again shifted the momentum in the hosts’ favour.
Brilliant bowling at the start: South Africa’s pacy bowling was always going to be a challenge for Indian batsmen. Chasing 359 in India and South Africa is a totally different proposition as the Indian batsmen found out. Dale Steyn broke the back of the Indian batting with his furious speed in both the matches. He was well complemented by the others. Ryan McLaren picked up three quick wickets at Jo’burg while Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up four at Durban and Morne Morkel two. The pacemen never allowed India to settle down.
Superlative fielding: South Africa had a smaller target to defend at Durban. And while their bowlers were on target yet again, their fielding also went up notches. Dhawan, Rohit, Raina and Dhoni all fell to excellent catches, which made the target tougher for the Indians. As in all other departments, South Africa trumped India in the field as well. --By A Cricket Analyst