This has certainly turned out to be one of India’s worst overseas tours in recent times. They put in a slightly better show with the bat, but were again pathetic and listless with the ball, as they went down to a dominant South Africa by seven wickets in the second ODI at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday night.
The defeat which made the scoreline 2-0 in the favour of the Proteas, saw them lose the ODI series with the final game still left to be played in Cape Town on Sunday. Coming on the back of the 2-1 loss in the Test series to the hosts, this hugely disappointing result marks another low for new India coach Rahul Dravid in his first overseas assignment.
AS IT HAPPENED | SCORECARD
Choosing to bat after winning the toss, India lost ‘former captain’ Virat Kohli for a rare ODI duck, but finished at 287 for six thanks to a blazing knock by Rishabh Pant (85, 71b, 10zx4, 2×6), a ‘calm’ 55 by stand-in captain KL Rahul (55, 79b, 4×4), and a fine rear-guard, 48-run unbeaten seventh wicket stand between Shardul Thakur (40 not out, 38b, 3×4, 1×6) and Ravichandran Ashwin (25 not out, 24b, 1×4, 1×6).
Still, with Pant having got out at the wrong time, holing out to wide long on when in sight of a century, in the 33rd over, India finished around 30-odd runs short, especially considering their bowling woes.
After de Kock, who punished the Indian bowlers at will, was out lbw while trying to flick a full toss from Shardul Thakur, Malan added 80 off 76 balls for the second wicket with the in-form Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma (35, 36b, 3×4) to keep up the momentum.
Jasprit Bumrah trapped Malan with an off-cutter, and Bavuma was out caught and bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal, but Aiden Markram (37 not out, 41b, 4×4) and Rassie van der Dussen (37 not out, 38b, 2×4) – who scored a hundred in the last game – finished the job for South Africa with little fuss, adding 74* for the fourth wicket in 75 balls to take them home in the final over.
While almost all the bowlers appeared to be just going through the motions, the worst of the lot were the most ‘experienced’ of them – seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-67 in 10 overs) and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (0-68 in 10 overs).
The only thing positive for India from the match was provided by Pant, who cracked his career-best score in ODIs. His knock reflected the growth of a batsman who has been repeatedly criticized for his playing the wrong shot at the wrong time.
Pant started off on an edgy note, edging the first ball that he faced, which luckily fell in front of slip, as he came down the track to Keshav Maharaj. When he was batting on 3, he was involved in a horrible mix-up with Rahul, which saw both batsmen at the same end. While he was fortunate to survive as Maharaj failed to collect the throw at the non-striker’s end, Pant did invite a glare from Rahul.
He did well though to put these glitches behind quickly, beginning his familiar ‘entertainment package,’ which included 10 fours and two sixes, by slog-sweeping Maharaj for a six over deep mid-wicket. With Rahul struggling to increase the pace, it was the left-hander who broke the shackles of the spinners.
How dominant the left-hander was in his 115-run stand with Rahul can be gauged by the fact that when the stand reached 100, Pant’s contribution was a grand 74!