Thanks to the rainy build-up, fast bowlers were supposed to be influential in shaping the narrative of the third One-Day International (ODI) today at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds. Instead, under bright sunshine, spinners made the difference between the two sides in what turned out to be a one-sided affair. South Africa was shot out for 99 – its fourth-lowest total in ODIs and the lowest at the venue – before Shubman Gill (49, 56b, 8x4) and other top-order batters took India home with 30.5 overs to spare.
With the seven-wicket win, India won the series 2-1.
Gill was typically strokeful and made up for his failures in the first two matches but he had a hand in the run-out of his partner Shikhar Dhawan, who fell cheaply again. Gill cut, pulled, and drove the fast bowlers for boundaries; they were all stylish shots. Ishan Kishan fell to South Africa’s lone spinner Bjorn Fortuin – the playing XI was packed with fast bowlers with Keshav Maharaj rested – before Shreyas Iyer’s unbeaten 28 (23b, 34, 2x6) took India past the finish line. The series was sealed with a fierce hit down the ground for six.
The fate of the contest was decided in the first two hours of the day’s play. Wickets fell regularly after a delayed start due to wet outfield. South Africa paid the price for poor shot selection and an inappropriate approach to playing spin. Three batters lost their wickets trying to go back in the crease to either defend or cut. Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav cleaned up the tail and ended up with the best figures – 4.1-1-18-4 – but Washington Sundar (2 for 15) and Shahbaz Ahmed (2 for 32) were perhaps more influential in handing India the advantage as they broke the back of the middle order.
Quinton de Kock departed first; he was caught out trying to cut a short delivery from Sundar in the third over. Fast bowlers Avesh Khan (5-1-8-0) and Mohammed Siraj then kept the batters on a tight leash. Avesh, especially, was hard to go after as he persistently bowled on a good length or slightly back of a length and swung the ball. On numerous occasions, the ball narrowly missed the edge as batters stood rooted to their crease and hung their bat out. But it was Siraj (2 for 17) who hustled the batters, trapped them, and picked up two crucial wickets upfront: Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan both fell to the pull shot off his short deliveries.
Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen (34, 42b, 4x4) then resisted for mere 33 deliveries but their partnership turned out to be the most productive of the innings and longest lasting. It seemed they had seen off a tough spell from the fast bowlers and could build a foundation for a good total, but India’s spinners had other plans.
Markram appeared indecisive in negotiating an excellent delivery from Shahbaz from around the wicket, and was bowled. He tentatively pressed forward but didn’t come to the pitch of the ball, which turned, kissed the edge and ended up in the wicketkeeper’s gloves. David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo and Klaasen were all dismissed attempting to negotiate deliveries off the back foot. The lower-order batters fell to Kuldeep’s full deliveries, one of which was a nice googly.
It was the first time a team had scored less than 100 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. The damage had been done and South Africa was consigned to its eighth series defeat in India.
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