South Africa alive with resounding win

It was that kind of a day when you couldn’t predict anything based on the first three ODIs. It was a match where two of India’s match-winners from the first three ODIs were thwarted around the park for a combined 119 runs off just 11.3 overs. Pink jerseys are meant to win for the Proteas and no matter what the conditions are, or how difficult the opposition is, they will always emerge victorious; even if it takes a lightening to strike or a rainfall to turn the game around, literally.

After winning the toss, captain Kohli decided to bat first and his intention was clear; to set a big total on the board and put the opposition under pressure. The Indian innings started with Rohit Sharma failing to find his rhythm yet again. He mistimed Rabada’s delivery and the quick took an excellent diving catch. Kohli and Dhawan gave India a strong foundation yet again, as they built a partnership of 158 runs before Kohli got out for 75. He was caught at cover by Miller, as Morris succeeded in breaking the dangerous partnership. One would say looking at the 158-run stand that the damage has already been done, but it was too soon to predict as the South African bowlers were about to find the momentum to slow down the Indian batsmen.

Rahane and Dhawan were at the crease when the game was stopped due to lightening. This is where the fortune of the game changed. A beautiful knock of 109 runs was put to halt after the break and Dhawan had to depart. Rahane followed him quickly as the break seemed to be working for the Proteas. Dhoni and Iyer tried to build another partnership but Iyer couldn’t stay calm as it was the 44th over. He was taken at long-on by Morris and Ngidi provided the breakthrough. Pandya and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar too couldn’t stay long with Dhoni. The finisher remained unbeaten at 42 as India posted 289 runs on a track where scoring 300 runs in the first innings has been a ritual in recent years.

The Proteas started their innings with a fair bit of confidence, although, there were a few boundaries coming off the edges of the bat. The South African openers stayed together for 43 runs. Markram was the first to depart when he misread the length of Bumrah’s delivery. The decision was reviewed by him, but the umpire’s decision was right with the hawk-eye showing three reds. Amla’s partnership with Duminy didn’t threaten the Indians much and Duminy departed for 10 runs with Kuldeep Yadav providing the break. Amla followed him soon to the dressing room as he departed for 33, thanks to Kuldeep Yadav again.

The game was not leaning on either side as there was a lot of batting left in the South African line-up. The spinners’ dominance was put to an end by AB de Villiers, who hit some powerful shots. Rain interfered once again, and the break provided proved to be useful to the Proteas side again. The target was reduced to 202 to be achieved in 28 overs by D/L method and soon the game switched to T20 mode. The strategies changed and India couldn’t cope with the power hitting of Miller and Klaasen. Miller was perhaps the luckiest man on the ground as he survived twice. First, he was dropped by Shreyas Iyer. Later, Miller was bowled, again by Chahal, but unfortunately, Chahal overstepped and Miller survived again. Miller took complete advantage of these chances and he escalated the scoreboard quickly. Klaasen and Miller’s partnership took the game beyond India’s hands. The Indian captain tried his best with different bowling options but saving the fast bowlers for the end didn’t serve any purpose. The Indian spinners were being hit out of the park, while both Klaasen and Miller put together, the missing piece in the South African puzzle. When Miller was dismissed by Chahal, the equation was reduced to run-a-ball. Phehlukwayo walked in and he put the game beyond doubt and possibilities as he hit 23 runs off just 5 balls.

It was Klaasen’s second ODI and the match-winning innings he played was exactly what South Africa wanted. It was necessary for someone to step up and Klaasen did it with some audacious hitting. He was named man of the match for his 43 runs off 27 balls. The game was a mixture of whole-hearted effort and a bit of luck. Although, the lightening and rain breaks favored South Africa eventually, they looked determined to win. This match has kept the contest alive and they just need one more win to push the visitors to the edge. The confidence in the South African dressing room must be high and they will carry this confidence in the next game on 13th February at Port Elizabeth.



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