Feb 08, 2018
By MI Media
If this series was held in India, the results wouldn’t have been this surprising. Just the facts and statistics about the past tours, the past landmarks, the records and the contrasting current performances of Team India makes these serial victories drastically significant. The third ODI started with a set of predictions; Indian spinners might dominate and Virat Kohli might play the big innings yet again. The Proteas must have discussed this in depth while preparing for the match, yet, they failed again.
The stage was set to witness the most significant match in the series so far. The conditions favored batsmen as the surface was dry and hard at the Newlands cricket stadium in Cape Town. South Africa won the toss and they decided to field on the track which demanded to be batted on first. The Indian captain was more than happy as he wanted to bat first. South Africa came in with two debutants, Heinrich Klaasen and Lungisani Ngidi, while Morne Morkel was rested. The contest started with the Proteas showing their intent in the very first over as Rabada’s delivery kissed the lower edge of Rohit Sharma’s bat who wanted to pull his bat out of the way and Klaasen took the first catch of his ODI career. Rohit Sharma got out on 0, continuing his poor run of form in this series. Unlike Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli capitalized on the conditions and built a strong partnership of 140 runs. While Dhawan was playing with the strike rate of above 100, Kohli was holding his ground, concentrating on avoiding any kind of mistakes. Markram’s specialist bowlers didn’t seem to find any solution to break this partnership and the captain had to hand the ball to the all-rounder, JP Duminy. Duminy was floating the ball in the air, and the slower it got, the more it was troubling the left-handed opener. Eventually, Duminy got rid of Dhawan and soon after, he picked Rahane too. India’s batsmen returned one by one after Dhawan got out and this seeded a hope in the South African players, but Virat Kohli was adamant to stay up there and finish it himself. Kohli played patiently and carefully after he survived a scare, where his dismissal was saved by a brush of the ball on the outside edge of his bat. He was given out on 0 but he reviewed it, not knowing if it had touched the bat, but his instincts worked. Even though it was a batting pitch, the pitch slowed down after certain overs, but Kohli read it correctly and played accordingly. He built a good stand with Bhuvaneshwar too and with his unbeaten knock of 160 runs, India managed to post a decent total of 303 runs on board.
Hashim Amla, again, failed to deal with the seamers and went back cheaply. Captain Markram and Duminy, who was promoted in the order, stabilized the innings for a while before the spin attack came into action. There must have been a moment of confusion in everyone’s mind about why didn’t Dhoni stump Markram if he was way out of the crease, but then we realized that he already did it before we could see it. After Markram’s departure, the hosts started losing wickets at frequent intervals. The spinners shared 8 wickets together ripping through the South African batting line-up yet again. There was hardly any noticeable fight in the South African innings and it seemed that their over-dependency on du Plessis and de Villiers is proving them costly. Despite the Proteas’ dismal performance, Team India’s performance needs to be appreciated. They have never been this dominant in South Africa in a bilateral series. The knock of 160* runs was the second highest by an Indian captain playing away from home, after Kapil Dev’s 175*. Kohli was fighting it hard and probably this was his most hard-fought innings in his career where he scored 100 out of his 160 just by running between the wickets.
Now, that India cannot be defeated in this series, Team India will look forward to seal this series in the next game itself. South Africa will be more than relieved to welcome back AB de Villiers in the fourth ODI. However, the damage has been done and Team India have sent a message across the cricketing world that they are not going to succumb to the pressure of being an away team. After these one-sided victories for Team India, a tight contest in the next encounter will be a delight to watch. Hopefully, if the Proteas generate a motivational environment in the dressing room and prepare well to deny India’s victory, the next match in Johannesburg on 10th of February will be an interesting contest.