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The Report by Firdose Moonda
December 8, 2013
Cullinan: India not playing like a No. 1 team
South Africa 280 for 6 (De Kock 106, Amla 100, Shami 3-48) v India 146 (Tsotsobe 4-25, Steyn 3-17) by 134 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India made significant changes to their bowling attack, played on a surface far more suited to them than the Wanderers was - a slower Durban track - and showed some improvement from Thursday, but the end result was still the same. They conceded too many runs to South Africa's opening pair and their own top order were shot out to leave the series decided with a game to play.
South Africa, in fifth place on the ICC's one-day rankings, will consider this a major coup. AB de Villiers had slammed suggestions they were underdogs because of India's position at the top of the list, because he believed home conditions would give his men a sizeable advantage. He has been proved right.
With minimal time to adapt to South African surfaces, India's batsmen have yet to present the technique required to prosper against pace and short-pitched bowling while their seamers have yet to get a measure of the lengths required of them. Mohammed Shami was again the most impressive of the pack, using the slower bouncer and yorker to good effect but even with turn on offer, India could not stop Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, who both scored centuries.
They paced their partnership to perfection, starting fairly slowly, milking the bowling, scoring with ease and then accelerating at the right times. In the process, Amla became the fastest to 4,000 ODI runs, achieving the feat in 81 innings, seven quicker than Viv Richards. De Kock's hundred made him only the third South African, after Amla and Herschelle Gibbs, to score back-to-back centuries in ODIs, and maintained his 100% conversion rate of fifties into hundreds at this level.
De Kock offered one chance early on. He was on 13 when he edged off Shami but the ball fell short R Ashwin at first slip. Apart from that, de Kock and Amla's partnership was flawless. They scored all around the field and by the 11th over, Dhoni was already searching for options.
He introduced spin but Ashwin and Suresh Raina posed little threat. He tried the medium pace of Virat Kohli, which was also ineffective. With the South African batsmen in no rush and runs available, India were facing a total in the region of 300.
Boundaries were not a priority for either Amla or de Kock - they did not hit a single six - but they found them on occasion. De Kock seemed the more aggressive but Amla's strike rate was just as high. Both reached their half centuries off 57 balls before de Kock overtook Amla.
His third hundred came with a single off Ishant Sharma and he looked to up the ante. He swept Ashwin, hoping to clear square leg, but found Rohit Sharma to end his second successive century opening stand with Amla on 194.
Given their platform, South Africa chose to send AB de Villiers in at No. 3, instead of Jacques Kallis, but the plan backfired. De Villiers was stumped after stretching forward to hit Ravindra Jadeja down the ground and he became the second wicket to fall in the second Powerplay.
It was in that period that India pulled South Africa back. Ravindra Jadeja was the architect of the stranglehold as he spun the ball and varied his lengths cleverly. Between overs 35 and 48, India gave away only 66 runs and dismissed JP Duminy, David Miller and Kallis, who was sent in at No.6.
All that unraveled when Ryan McLaren and Vernon Philander took 20 runs off the final over to set up a competitive target. By the ninth over of the reply, the game was up.
Shikhar Dhawan began the demise when he cut a Dale Steyn ball to backward point, Virat Kohli was undone by a slightly short Lonwabo Tsotsobe ball that he he tried to play to third man but sent to the keeper, Rohit Sharma also succumbed to that length, finding Hashim Amla short midwicket when he tried to pull, and Ajinkya Rahane chased a short, wide one and was given caught behind - though replays suggested he might have missed it. At 34 for 4, India would have known they were unlikely to get the runs required, so they needed the rain.
A drizzle began to drip in the 16th over and South Africa brought on JP Duminy to speed things up and get to 20 overs. The rain grew heavier in the 19th over and Vernon Philander was racing back to his mark to complete it. With the fifth ball, he had Dhoni push at one just outside off, de Kock dived to his right and took the catch one-handed to end the Indian challenge.
The only thing that made it worse for them was that the heavens closed and they had to bat out the rest of the innings against a South African attack that has been relentless. That India lost their 10th wicket at the same time South Africa had lost their first showed just how differently the two innings had panned out.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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