With the series on the line, South Africa’s batsmen finally turned up and won a game for the home side but it would not have been possible without a generous dose of assistance from a sloppy India.
Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a century in his 100th ODI, and Virat Kohli set things up beautifully for the middle order, which failed to show up and crucial mistakes in the field then saw SA hammer their way to what seems like an easy victory.
Here are the big talking points from the 4th ODI:
Rohit being Rohit
Rohit Sharma’s woes in SA continued thanks to Kagiso Rabada’s brilliant caught and bowled. In 4 innings, the India opener has managed just 40 runs at an average of 10 and while that still doesn’t mean that he will be rested, it does place a huge question mark on his technique is conditions that are perfect for swing and seam. It is a worry mainly because the 2019 World Cup will be played in England and conditions usually aid swing bowlers. Rohit’s inability to even hang around has seen him play just 66 deliveries in these four innings — a far cry from how he usually operates in India where he can often start off slowly, knowing that he can catch up with the strike-rate once he gets going.
The golden partnership
While Rohit has been struggling, Kohli-Dhawan have been going from strength to strength. There are times in Test cricket when Dhawan seems to struggle with the short ball or the movement but he is a different batsman in ODIs. He has taken on the short ball with aplomb and with Virat Kohli, he has forged partnerships in each and every game. The duo put on 34 in the first ODI, an unbroken stand of 93 in the second, 140 in the third and 158 in the fourth ODI on Saturday. Kohli and Dhawan have a good rhythm to their batting and while they sometimes seem to struggle while running between the wickets (Dhawan isn’t as quick as Kohli would perhaps like him to be), the rest of it has been magical.
Out of order
Things changed after the lightning break. The ball seemed to bounce a little on the batsmen and it just looked like the SA bowlers were bowling that little bit quicker. The loss of Kohli and Dhawan didn’t help matters neither did the fact that the middle order failed to get going. Ajinkya Rahane wasted another opportunity to make the No 4 slot his own by finding a fielder in the deep despite having plenty of overs to play around with. The same is true of Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya. India reached the 200-run mark just ahead of the 35th over and from that point, they definitely needed to get a lot more than 289.
India in last ten overs:
59/3 (230/4 to 289/7)
Runs scored each over: 4, 6, 3, 6, 4, 6, 3, 5, 10, 12
The AB impact
The SA innings got off to a decent enough start. Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla put on 43 before Jasprit Bumrah sent back the young skipper by trapping him LBW. A rain delay after the fall of the wicket led to a shortened game but almost immediately after resumption, Kohli pressed Kuldeep into the attack. And the left-arm wrist spinner did not disappoint. He sent back JP Duminy and Amla in quick succession. But Kohli strangely enough took Kuldeep out of the attack when AB de Villiers was there early on. The Indian skipper persisted with Chahal from one end and Pandya from the other. AB’s innings (26 off 18 balls) may not have lasted long but he showed his team-mates that once you start going after the spinners, the mind can do strange things. It forced Chahal onto the defensive for probably the first time in the series and showed the South Africans that there was a way out of this quagmire.
The shortened game probably left SA with no option but to go for their shots but India helped them along with dropped catches, no-balls, wides and numerous misfields. David Miller was a prime recipient — surviving once due to a dropped catch and then due to a no-ball — and he made his chances count. Kohli chose not to be too harsh on Chahal in the post-match conference but try explaining the no-ball to Sunil Gavaskar, who simply couldn’t understand the business of spinners bowling no-balls. Kohli will hope his team get their A game back on in the next ODI because this certainly wasn’t it.
The Klaasen-Miller partnership
Despite AB’s bit hits, India were still well in control of the game when Henrik Klaasen and Miller decided it was time to go for their shots. The two lives that Miller got seemed to spur him into action. He stopped pottering around and started going for the big shots and they kept coming off. But the star of the show was Klaasen. There were some outrageous shots — like the one where he had predetermined that he would play a shot on the leg-side and went so far as to drag the ball from outside the wide line on the off-side to get four runs. It was a shot that prompted a smile even from Kohli. But the 72-run partnership between the two came off just 43 balls and changed the complexion of the game in quick time. India’s wrist spinners ended up with not very flattering bowling figures for the first time in the series.
5.3-0-68-1. ER 12.36
6-0-51-2. ER 8.50