The fall of India’s indescribable middle order on January 19 confirmed that the great half-centuries of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were not counted too much as they lost by 31 runs to South Africa in the opening ODI on Wednesday. Chasing a challenging 297, India scored 138 for one before the wickets fell before the spectators trailed 0-1 in the three-match series. India’s innings ended at 265 for eight. South Africa captain Temba Bavuma (110 off 143 balls) and Rasi van der Dussen (129 not out off 96 balls) took their respective 204-run centuries to take South Africa to 296 for four after deciding to bat.
With Kohli (51 off 63 balls) and Dhawan (79 off 84 balls) in the middle, India were able to return home comfortably but it all fell apart at the end of their 92-run stand.
India have been guilty of relying too much on their top three in the past and again, the middle order could not capitalize on the platform offered by Kohli and Dhawan when they lost captain KL Rahul (12) cheaply.
Chasemaster Kohli, playing his first game since the end of his captaincy last week, barely sweated to touch his half-century, a sweep shot by Tabrez Shamir, a stroke that he does not play regularly, led to his downfall. Disbelieve him.
Dhawan saw great touch during his position and played rather comfortably with the rising star of the Test series Marco Janssen, collecting five of his 10 fours off the long left-arm pacer.
The stage was set for the votes of Rishabh Pant (16), Shreyas Iyer (17) and debutant Venkatesh Iyer (2) to get the job done but they quickly fell apart, with India scoring 188 for six from a strong 138 for one. .
Shreyas and Venkatesh’s shot selection could have been better had it not been for Quinton de Kock’s quick stumping of Pant.
Shardul Tagore (50 not out off 43 balls) tried his best towards the end but the loss was already done.
Earlier, Jaspreet Bumrah (2/48) was a stand-out bowler for India in an otherwise ordinary bowling effort.
After a slow start, Van der Dussen and Bavuma shared the second highest pairing against India in the ODIs to ensure a competitive score for the home team.
South Africa decided to bat slowly at Boland Park. Both Bumrah and Bhubaneswar Kumar started the white ball a bit early and pushed it into the air along the pitch.
After a wrong first over, the usually perfect Bumrah got his performance together and caught opener Janeman Malan (6) in the outswinger. Hoping for an incoming ball, Malan caught the crease with the outside edge with his loose push.
South Africa were bowled out for 39 in 10 overs as Indian bowlers restricted the flow of runs.
De Kock (27 off 41 balls) is playing his first game since announcing his Test retirement, and it was tough as Bavuma did not get the ball at bat.
De Kock died trying to break the shackles. Ashwin, in his first ODI game since June 2017, found De Cock’s stump with a slider while taking an opener cut shot.
In the 18th over it turned into 68 for three when Aiden Markram was run out on a direct hit by Venkatesh when he went for a single that was not to be taken.
At that point, it seemed difficult for South Africa to cross the 200 mark but the fight between Van der Dussen and Bauma changed the course of the stand innings.
The Indian bowlers looked quite normal in the middle overs as the South African pair regularly took odd boundaries as well as rotating strikes.
Van der Dussen was aggressive in the partnership from the word go because Babuma played the anchor.
Van der Dussen used a reverse sweep for four off Yuzbendra Chahal’s ball to pressure the leg-spinner and used the conventional sweep twice to collect more boundaries.
He later used a free hit to hit a six to Shardul Full as South Africa’s innings found much needed momentum.
Two pick-up shots on one knee for six overs in Deep Backward Square were the highlight of Van der Dussen’s entertaining knock. He finished with nine fours and four sixes.
Bavuma was happy to pick a single at the other end when some loose ropes were thrown behind the proposal.
The captain got his century in the 45th over and his batting partner reached the milestone in the 48th over. This was the second ODI century of the two batsmen.
Thakur made 17 runs in the last over, which took the hosts closer to 300. Thakur was the most expensive bowler, scoring 72 runs in his 10 overs quota. Venkatesh was not used as the sixth bowling option.
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