Abject surrender

India was bundled out for 146. The defeat, coming after six series triumphs, again raised questions about how good the Indians are as travellers, especially when they step out of the sub-continent. By K.C. Vijaya Kumar.

Between the two ODIs in Johannesburg and Durban, a colossal leader departed, a nation was stunned and there were even question marks on whether the series between India and South Africa will continue. The aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s demise witnessed a groundswell of emotions surging through the Rainbow Nation and at that point, it looked trivial to think about sport, but once things settled down, Cricket South Africa, looked ahead and dedicated the rest of the series to the memory of ‘Madiba’, as Mandela was warmly called in Africa.

There may have been changes in the socio-political landscape of South Africa, but as far as cricket went, the Proteas stayed consistent while India slumped again in the second game at Durban’s Kingsmead Stadium on December 8. The prime architects of the victory at Johannesburg — Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn — again played key roles as South Africa defeated India by 134 runs to seal the series 2-0.

The prelude to the Durban game was all about Mandela’s death and the rain clouds that kept drenching the coastal city in a summer that had surprisingly turned damp. The wet outfield delayed the start and though there was talk about a probable truncated 20-over slugfest, there was enough leeway for a 49-over contest. M. S. Dhoni proved second-time lucky with the toss, opted to field first and, just as at Johannesburg, watched the South African openers Amla (100, 117b, 8x4) and de Kock (106, 118b, 9x4) post another huge partnership.

The duo added 194 runs and though India did well to slow down the runs in the middle and final overs, the Amla-de Kock alliance had done enough substantial work to hurt the Indians. Amla was precise and pungent on the off-side while cruising to his 12th ODI hundred, while de Kock, true to his southpaw credentials, drove with finesse, pocketing his third ton in limited-overs cricket. The two men — a senior and a junior, a tall man and a relatively shorter youngster — cast aside their contrasts and complimented each other to set a strong base.

Against the run of play, both got out and South Africa lost six wickets for just 61 runs before Ryan McLaren and Vernon Philander lashed a few towards the end to help their side finish with 280 for six, a total far better than the par-score that skipper AB de Villiers had hoped for: 240. “I was pretty chuffed that the lower-order scored some runs,” de Villiers later said.

India had done well to restrict South Africa to a sub-300 score and though the drafting in of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma hardly revved up the attack, Mohammad Shami continued to do well and R. Ashwin kept it tight in the middle overs. The job was half-done and the batsmen were expected to fulfil the rest of the task but India collapsed to 34 for four and there was no second chance after that.

Steyn struck and Lonwabo Tsotsobe too prised out the wickets and once the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma went back to the pavilion, India had a tough proposition. Ajinkya Rahane, stepping in for an indisposed Yuvraj Singh, failed to seize the chance and it was far too much to expect Dhoni to stage another rearguard action. The wickets kept falling and the South Africans tightened their hold and nothing better exemplified their effort than de Villiers’ stunning catch to pouch Ravindra Jadeja’s big-hit near the long-on rope. An on-the-run de Villiers leapt up, caught the ball and ensured that he didn’t cross the boundary. It was one among the many slices of South African domination that sunk the number one side and later Dhoni said: “Our performance had nothing to do with the rain, we played bad cricket.”

India was bundled out for 146. The defeat, coming after six series triumphs, again raised questions about how good the Indians are as travellers, especially when they step out of the sub-continent.

THE SCORES

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

Fall of wickets: 1-194, 2-199, 3-233, 4-234, 5-249, 6-255.

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

Fall off wickets: 1-10, 2-16, 3-29, 4-34, 5-74, 6-95, 7-133, 8-145, 9-146.

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