SANDIPAN BANERJEE | 12 FEBRUARY, 2018
Rejuvenated South Africa Can Spoil India’s Party
For India, this newly gain confidence in the Proteas camp can turn out to be dangerous.
Following South Africa’s morale-boosting triumph at Wanderers in the Pink ODI, the ongoing six-match series has certainly generated the much-awaited buzz in the cricketing world. The hosts still need to win the remaining two matches to deny India its maiden bilateral ODI series triumph at the Rainbow Nation. Against Virat Kohli’s well-equipped side, the task is not going to be easy by any means. However, after dominating India’s much talked about spin-duo and chasing down a big total quite effortlessly in that rain-affected game on Saturday night, the confidence is certainly with the Proteas at this point in time.
"It's a massive, massive confidence-booster for us," said Heinrich Klaasen, the wicketkeeper-batsman, who scored a timely 43 off 27 in his second ODI innings to take his team home at Johannesburg in that must-win fixture.
According to Klaasen, before that game, maybe there was a lack of self-believe in South Africa camp regarding the competitiveness of the current depleted squad as they were comprehensively outplayed in the first three matches. However, after taking his team home through that stiff run-chase, Klaasen admitted that the spirits in his camps have changed drastically.
"Not like we didn't have the confidence [before the game] but just to get the first win has just lifted the spirits in the change room,” the youngster said in the post-match presser.
South Africa went into the fourth ODI, hoping for an AB De Villiers heroic. The former skipper and premier batsman made a comeback in that fixture after a finger injury, which forced him to miss the first three matches. However, the rescue act didn’t come from him. More pleasingly for the hosts, it was the young Klaasen along with David Miller, who were South Africa’s heroes during that run-chase.
For India, this newly gain confidence in the Protea camp can turn out to be dangerous. In the first three games, the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal was the prime reason behind South Africa’s batting failure. But at the Wanderers when the batsmen were counter-attacking, the duo seemed ineffective.
However, rain played a huge part though. Being wrist-spinners, both Yadav and Chahal found it difficult the control the wet ball and the likes of Klaasen and Miller took advantage of that.
Meanwhile, the way they hit the spinners around the park at Wanderers, it should lift the confidence of the entire dressing room, especially the batsmen, who before Saturday’s fixtures had no clue of how to tackle the spin-twin. But, after succeeding in counter attacking them, the Protea batsmen will eye to imply the same game plan against spin in the coming fixtures as well. Hence, it will be interesting to notice how Chahal and Kuldeep come back with a counterplan in the next game at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, where the fifth ODI is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.
Furthermore, the South African death bowling too did a wonderful job in restricting the Indians before the 300-run in Johannesburg. When Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were batting, it seemed India would reach a scored around 320 quite easily. But the hosts’ bowlers came back strongly in the final 10 overs and only gave away 59 runs. Remember, the likes of MS Dhoni, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya batted during that phase, but even the batsmen of their skills couldn’t get the ball rolling.
Thus, going further in the series, South Africa would like to expose this middle-order woe for the Indians. And this issue is hampering India for quite some time now.
Thus, maybe Kohli’s boys are 3-1 ahead in the series, but at Port Elizabeth as well as at Centurion, the rejuvenated South Africans will come out hard and test their skills thoroughly. Hence, we can expect an exciting finish to this ODI series.