South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Johannesburg December 5, 2013

Rohit struggles with the Steyn Test

Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Johannesburg

The billiards table
When Quinton de Kock scored the series' first boundary, a crisp flick off the pads through midwicket, the ball raced across the Wanderers outfield so quickly that the umpire had barely turned to look where it had gone when it crossed the boundary. Fast outfields are not uncommon in South Africa but considering the amount of rain that has been around Johannesburg, it was a credit to the groundstaff that they prepared a carpet so smooth.

The tee-off
De Kock played his entire innings with the freedom of youth, so when the first free-hit came with him on 92, there was a sense he would go big. Mohit Sharma bowled an innocuous length ball, and de Kock stood solidly, giving himself a firm base with his legs parted just enough to provide a platform for his body to swivel on. With a swing that would make the likes of Ernie Els proud, he struck the ball over long-on, high and hard enough for it go for six.

The bad timing
One of the worst times to give a batsman a send-off is after he's scored a century. De Kock's aggressive knock came to an end on 135, when he handed Virat Kohli a simple return catch in his follow-through, and the bowler was so delighted with the scalp that he told the batsman where the dressing room was with his finger. De Kock walked in that direction but it was Kohli who looked silly.

The shot
It appeared as though almost every delivery AB de Villiers made contact with found the boundary. His best came at the end, when India would have wanted nothing more than to get off the field. Mohit Sharma bowled full and de Villiers made room by backing away and sliced over point. The ball travelled flat and fast, not a typical slog but a calculated one that would have left India wondering how to stop the South African captain.

The run
There were many more eye-catching runs scored than the ones Rohit Sharma got via a leading edge that beat the cover fielder. It was an unsure stroke from a man struggling to cope with Dale Steyn's pace and swing, but the runs were significant. They were Rohit's first after facing 16 deliveries from Steyn, all full and swinging away from the right-hander. They were also the first runs Steyn conceded in an opening spell laced with venom.

The wicket
Ryan McLaren's place in the South African side was considered to be in doubt because of Jacques Kallis' comeback, but he proved his value with two wickets in his third over. His second victim was Yuvraj Singh, who was struck by a bouncer first ball before receiving a fuller delivery as a follow up. Yuvraj played all around the delivery and the ball brushed the pad before hitting the stumps, sending the bails flying and etching McLaren's name on the team sheet for matches to come.

The run-out
With South Africa's bowlers proving difficult to handle, the last thing India wanted was to lose a wicket to their fielders. Rohit, however, was too slow to respond to a call for a single from Suresh Raina, who had pushed the ball gently towards cover and set off immediately. Rohit's hesitation gave David Miller enough time to sprint in from cover, and as he dived he released the ball under arm to hit the stumps direct with the batsman short of his crease.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anurag on December 12, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    Yet again an Indian team as failed to impress when playing in a bouncy-seamy conditions, still an alien thing for us. No matter whether we are in 1996 or in 2013, the same story unfolds again. I just hoped the Sharmas, Dhawans and the Kohlis give bit more respect to the conditions and set themselves in. These are trying conditions and they should prove their worth in this team.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    I endorsed Syed Atta.. its a series of world champions against future champions! However, Asian teams are unpredictable..

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    come on guys, its just a first game let them settle. we will see very good series ahead . we have very good players and we also no-1 in odi don't forget that. its so early to dissects team performance on single game. let them play whole series then we able to do analysis on sa tour not now. come on team india show us some memorable play. still we can win the series and i mean that.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    India must relook at the team composition. since Pujara is already there, he should play in place of Yuvi/raina. Ishant should come in place of mohit and Rahane in place of Jadeja

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Wake up India, bring back Zaheer, devastating Sehwag considering their experience, contribution and value.

    You cannot let your ego play in the world of cricket to get your experienced cricketer like Zaheer who recently proved still consistent in Ranji Trophy. Sehwag is still dangerous, who should be given confidence to play his natural style of game. He is single handed match winner and give him confidence and change, he will rip off any bowlers and break their length of bowling. When South african players were playing, it just looked like batting paradise soon after their innings, when in our Indian players were playing they were searching for balls and running for runs without knowing where the ball is and sacrificing for runout.

    Just see the bowling line up, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Shami. These three are the major seamers and they lack experience in tensed situations and also there is no any guidance from experienced bowler if anyone goes wrong.

    This is the real test.

  • harsha on December 6, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Guys,stop blaming our players and indeed rohith,his game of play is the same way i.e slow start to the innings and goes well with the later part of the innings.Anyone who plays steyn in the 1st 3 overs in ODI cricket would obviously struggle with that out swingers at that pace,why blame only this guy.indeed he showed temperment there.unforunately he was ran-out where there was no run at all.we know that indians are always poor starters in any tour.they would definitely rock in the remaining 2 games.blaming yuvraj with his technique isnot gud as he showed an awesome performance in the 2007 t20 in those conditions.once he pile up few runs you would definitely see a different yuvraj.I indeed consider raina is not useful for the team in those conditions.rahane would be very ueful.And the pace bowlers mohit/bhuvi would not be used as they dont have pace where umesh and ishanth(better than mohit with pace) would be better so that they can trouble SA.come on guys cheer up our team.India Rocks

  • Bakht on December 6, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Actually, what I thought would happen, did in fact happen. Indian players are too comfortable at home on flat pitches where there is nothing for bowlers. When you have tracks like that, obviously you are not going to encourage anyone to become a fast bowlers. Everyone fancies being a batsman. But again, those are flat tracks (like cement pitches). As soon as these superstars got exposed to some swing and shape, we all saw that their footwork, shots and confidence shattered.

    Unless India moves out of its comfort zone and worry more about their technique rather than just accumulating runs, same would keep happening.

  • joseph on December 6, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    Rohit is not Sehwag, to go start straightaway. It is the first match and he was facing the world's best bowler, why not let him take his time? Let the whole series decide than a match.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    Admit it that Indian bowling has been pathetic since many years .. The only reason they have been winning is the fact that India has very good batting giants

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    The time is over for Yuvaraj singh. South african bowlers are world class today. . Our selectors should wake up and bring youngsters like Pujara and Rahne. It is not IPL in Indian pitches where our batsmen are masters. Barry Richards long time ago branded us as subcontinent players.Bharat Ratna Sachin was wise enough to hang up his shoes before the South african tour. Wake up selectors!

  • No featured comments at the moment.