Indian batting comes a cropper yet again in the face of sustained pace bowling

Under skies perennially dotted with dark clouds and in a match that started with its heartfelt remembrance of Nelson Mandela, India added its own version of grief as M.S. Dhoni’s men suffered a 134-run loss against the Proteas in the second ODI of the three-match series at the Kingsmead Stadium here on Sunday.

Pursuing South Africa’s 280 for six, the contest was effectively over when India slumped to 35 for four in 10 overs. The visitor finished with 146 and deservingly, South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead leaving India with one final game at Centurion on Wednesday, to attempt some damage-control.

A collapse did not seem imminent when Dale Steyn’s first two deliveries homed into Rohit Sharma’s legs and the Mumbaikar flicked them for a brace each as if he was playing at the maidans in India’s financial capital. An alert Steyn reverted to his off-stump line and had Shikhar Dhawan caught on the square-drive.

Twin blows

Lonwabo Tsotsobe then delivered twin blows — forcing Virat Kohli to nibble while Rohit was pouched by an airborne Hashim Amla at short mid-wicket. And when Morne Morkel dismissed Ajinkya Rahane, who replaced an unfit Yuvraj Singh (suffering from back spasms) in the playing eleven, India was down for the count despite its captain walking out to the middle.

Dhoni and Suresh Raina tried their best but the combination of niggardly bowling and agile fielding, proved too tough a hurdle to surmount. The match eased into the South Africans’ grasp with the highlight being skipper AB de Villiers’ stunning catch at long-on to snuff out Ravindra Jadeja’s resistance.

In the morning, after a wet outfield forced a 90-minute delayed start and the game was reduced to a 49-overs-per-side contest, Dhoni opted to field and initially relied on the extra yard of pace that Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma could generate. Incidentally, Yadav and Ishant had replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma respectively.

The change in the bowling line-up did not reap the right rewards as Amla (100) and Quinton de Kock (106) continued from where they left in the opening game at Johannesburg and another century partnership was etched (194 to be precise). Fresh from a century in the last match at the Wanderers Stadium, de Kock essayed crisp drives while Amla played second fiddle.

Sluggish surface

After banking on pace, Dhoni factored in the sluggish surface and the heavy outfield and swapped around the quartet of R. Ashwin, Raina, Kohli and Jadeja but Amla and de Kock milked their singles and pounced on the loose deliveries in an alliance that had assurance as its second skin.

During the course of his third ODI hundred, de Kock lashed a Kohli full-toss for four but largely it was an innings of the dabs and the drives while Amla, unhurried and elegant, cut well and the Proteas seemed set for a massive score. The couple of moments of discomfort were when Ashwin’s delivery cramped Amla for space and the ball nearly ricocheted onto the stumps and later the off-spinner spun one right across de Kock’s bat.

de Kock reached his century off the first delivery of the Power Play block (overs 34 to 38) before India found solace by scalping two wickets in a span of eight deliveries. de Kock and de Villiers were gone during a meagre Power Play (27/2) for the Proteas. Immediately, India clawed back as Amla, who crossed 4000 ODI runs, fell after his 12th hundred, succumbing to Shami (three for 48), whose repeated incisions slowed down the South Africans during the last nine overs that yielded 64 for the loss of four wickets.

In the end, it hardly hindered the South African juggernaut.

Scoreboard

South Africa: Quinton de Kock c Rohit b Ashwin 106 (118b, 9x4), Hashim Amla c Dhoni b Shami 100 (117b, 8x4), A.B. de Villers st Dhoni b Jadeja 3 (4b), J-P Duminy run out 26 (29b, 2x4), David Miller lbw b Shami 0 (3b), Jacques Kallis b Shami 10 (13b, 1x4), Ryan McLaren (not out) 12 (5b, 1x4, 1x6), Vernon Philander (not out) 14 (5b, 3x4); Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-6): 9; Total (for six wkts., in 49 overs): 280.

Fall of wickets: 1-194 (de Kock), 2-199 (de Villiers), 3-233 (Amla), 4-234 (Miller), 5-249 (Duminy), 6-255 (Kallis).

India bowling: Umesh Yadav 6-0-45-0, Mohammad Shami 8-0-48-3, Ishant Sharma 7-0-38-0, R. Ashwin 9-0-48-1, Suresh Raina 6-0-32-0, Virat Kohli 3-0-17-0, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-49-1.

India: Rohit Sharma c Amla b Tsotsobe 19 (26b, 2x4), Shikhar Dhawan c Duminy b Steyn 0 (2b), Virat Kohli c de Kock b Tsotsobe 0 (5b), Ajinkya Rahane c de Kock b Morkel 8 (17b, 1x4), Suresh Raina c Miller b Morkel 36 (50b, 3x4), M.S. Dhoni c de Kock b Philander 19 (31b), Ravindra Jadeja c de Villiers b Tsotsobe 26 (34b, 1x4, 1x6), R. Ashwin c de Kock b Steyn 15 (26b, 1x4), Mohammad Shami b Tsotsobe 8 (14b), Umesh Yadav b Steyn 1 (5b), Ishant Sharma (not out) 0 (2b); Extras (b-4, lb-1, w-8, nb-1): 14; Total (in 35.1 overs): 146.

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Dhawan), 2-16 (Kohli), 3-29 (Rohit), 4-34 (Rahane), 5-74 (Dhoni), 6-95 (Raina), 7-133 (Ashwin), 8-145 (Jadeja), 9-146 (Umesh).

South Africa bowling: Dale Steyn 7-1-17-3, Lonwabo Tsotsobe 7.1-0-25-4, Morne Morkel 6-0-34-2, Vernon Philander 6-1-20-1, J.P. Duminy 5-0-20-0, Ryan McLaren 4-0-25-0.

Man-of-the-match: de Kock.

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