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Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Johannesburg
Firdose Moonda at the Wanderers
December 5, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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