South Africa v India, 2nd ODI, Durban December 8, 2013

When Kingsmead resembled a golf course

Plays of the day for the second ODI between South Africa and India at Kingsmead

The outfield
Kingsmead took a lot of rain in the week leading up to this ODI, which is why despite no rain on the day before the match the start was delayed by an hour and a half on Sunday. It took a lot of effort from the groundsmen and a flexible approach from the teams to not be averse to playing on an outfield that looked more like a golf course from afar. As many as nine big patches of sawdust adorned the turf, most noticeably at the backward point and short third man area for a right-handed batsman batting at Old Fort End. Every time the ball went through the sawdust it slowed down appreciably, Umesh Yadav once almost injured himself trying to desperately prevent the ball from hitting the rough area towards deep midwicket. Possibly, they didn't want the ball to lose its shine there.

The miss
In the fifth over, with his bowling end changed, Mohammed Shami produced a chance, getting the outside edge from Quinton de Kock. It didn't fly too high, and dipped further in front of R Ashwin at first slip. Ashwin couldn't reach it, and even hurt his finger. For his build and slightly scratchy technique, MS Dhoni has done really well as a wicketkeeper, making few glaring errors, but this instance underlined one of the flaws that has persisted with his keeping: he rarely goes for catches between him and first slip, or for those that might be going straight to first slip but low. In this case, Ashwin wasn't too far to Dhoni's left, but he was much deeper. Perhaps Dhoni should have gone for this one. However, you don't have even a split second to make these decisions, especially if you have to go against your instincts. De Kock was 13 then. He went on to score 106.

The bowling change
After battering the top order with pace, South Africa introduced JP Duminy in the 13th over, despite there being six seamers in the side. This had nothing to do with the relative slowness of the pitch when compared to the Wanderers. This had all to do with the cloudy weather that had set in, and with four wickets already down South Africa wanted to get to 20 overs as soon as possible so they could bring Duckworth-Lewis in should it rain.

It began to drizzle in the 20th over, Suresh Raina kept asking Vernon Philander to wait before running in, Dhoni got out to the fifth ball, which meant two more minutes were wasted, but as the last ball of the 20th over was bowled, the captain AB de Villiers did a little fist pump. We now had a game, and India were 66 behind the par score. Sure enough, Morne Morkel rushed in to bowl the 21st over.

The catch
Don't try to hit over Hashim Amla's head. From the evidence of the Centurion ODI against Pakistan, he is a superb judge of the overhead catch. Back then, he timed his jump perfectly, and leapt all the way up to catch Umar Amin at slip. This time Rohit Sharma's pull was more convincing than Amin's outside edge, but Amla stood in the way at short midwicket. Once again he timed his rise as well as he does his wristy whips during his century, and made a tough catch look easy.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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