MATCH ONE: THURSDAY, 1st FEBRUARY 2018
The hype had been brought up by fans. Could the starting eleven for each game bring in an idea as to what team Cricket South Africa selectors could go with in the World Cup next year (provided no players take the dreaded Kolpak deal out of nowhere)? Personally, I was looking forward to this series, not only did I manage to get my Pink Day tickets early, but I could start looking forward to picking my dream eleven for the World Cup in England I am breaking my back to save up for… and I genuinely enjoy ODIs a lot.
South Africa won the toss and bat first in Kingsmead: a ground in which many believe should no longer host cricket matches. I won’t give my opinion on that anytime soon. Major loss to the Proteas is losing AB to an injured finger, therefore having him sit out for the first three games of the series. Although, it’s not injured enough that he can play golf… moving on.
The hosts’ top six gave the same problems of not scoring enough runs to have the lower order worry if the next number of runs is crucial enough to win the match. We had Morris and Phehlukwayo contributing more of a partnership as well as runs than de Kock did. At the end of SA’s batting innings, a decent 269-8 was made thanks to Faf’s 120. India needed 270 to draw first blood in the series.
The men in blue managed to chase the total relatively easily with five overs to spare and six wickets in hand after Phehlukwayo took two wickets of Kohli (112) and Rahane (79). It was not enough to fix the damage that was South Africa’s under-par bowling and less than impressive bowling. Kohli took win him a man of the match century which boosted his team 1-0 in the six match.
India needs to win the series 4-2 or better to overtake the Proteas in rankings to become number one.
MATCH TWO: SUNDAY, 4th FEBRUARY 2018
More bad news strikes the Proteas camp, with Captain Faf being ruled out for the remainder of the India tour because of an injured finger. While some Indian fans were rejoicing at this news, it made me say to myself: if they are rejoicing so much for Faf and AB’s injuries, it shows how much faith they have in their own side in these conditions. That thought quickly went out of my mind the minute this match ended.
Aiden Markram, whom has some experience captaining a national squad, was boldly placed as interim captain for the rest of the ODI series. Heinrich Klaasen, Khaya Zondo and Farhaan Behardien were called up into the squad should anymore injuries occur. Two changes were made to the eleven, with Zondo as well as Tabraiz Shamsi for Faf and Phehlukwayo.
India had won the toss, and opted to bowl first. If there is any evidence that the Proteas struggle with even the slightest hint of spin, this match would have be the perfect case study in any textbook. Silly shots were played all around, but also credit should go to the Indian bowlers for producing some movement in a pitch that is not notorious for a lot of spin. It managed to make the SA batters’ heads spin, which lead to the oh-so-predictable collapse of the Proteas seeing them at 107-6 in the 28th over. The top six had failed again. Miller had failed to get a good score again. He may average 50 in limited over games, but right when his team needed him to step up as ‘Killer Miller’ he failed to make it his time. 118 was the total scored before South Africa were bowled out, with five wickets going to Yuzvendra Chahal. A bizarre call had been made by the match referee to call lunch when India needed two more runs to win. One more thing that showed how fed up Proteas fans are with inconsistent performances could also be how fans left the stadium, and how many remained to watch the last two runs to be scored. India managed to steamroll the hosts, chasing down 119 with ease and only losing one wicket.
Currently sitting 2-0 in the series, India will be sitting pretty for the next game tomorrow (Wednesday 7 February at 1pm local time). South Africa will be wondering what went wrong within the team and what can be done in terms of having the right combinations. They will be missing de Kock due to wrist injury, meaning Klaasen will definitely play. To keep Miller in the eleven and not put Behardien in the mix will be a decision on blind faith in that the teams needs to bounce back in order to win the series and retain the number one ranking. Is this really our best effort with the bat and ball? If so, we could crash out of the World Cup next year before knock-out rounds even start. This lacklustre performance should be a wake-up call to everyone in the Proteas set up. Stop blaming the pitches, control the controllables. If you want to be world class, you must learn to adapt, adapt quickly.