South Africa beat India by 141 runs in the first one-day international at the Wanderers on Thursday. It was their second-biggest win in terms of runs over India, and a solid batting performance. Some phenomenal bowling from Dale Steyn helped the hosts to a convincing win. There was much to talk about and ANTOINETTE MULLER picked five key points.
India won the toss and elected to field first, with one eye on a potential looming thunderstorm. South Africa made a steady start with the run-rate hovering between three and below six for the first 30 overs as Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock began to build a foundation. De Kock went on to score his second international hundred while Amla stood by him steadily and India only got their first breakthrough with South Africa already having posted 150 on the board.
Mohammed Shami, a young pacer with much talent, managed to clean bowl Amla, but the damage had been done. However, Jacques Kallis departed early and Quinton de Kock followed soon after he brought up the highest score for a South African against India.
By the time AB de Villiers and JP Duminy strolled to the crease, all hell broke loose and from the 41st over, South Africa almost consistently clattered over ten runs an over. Although India had chased 350-plus twice in 2013 already, it was on different pitches, and getting to 359 against South Africa was always going to be tough.
The openers looked like fish out of water and nobody in the top five managed to pass 31 and only one player got past the 20-run mark. MS Dhoni managed some resistance in the middle order with 65 off 125, but it was never going be a battle he could win on his own and South Africa took a 1-0 series lead with a 141 run win. Here are five talking points following the victory.
The magic of substantial partnerships
For the first time since February 2010, South Africa managed a 100-plus run partnership for the opening wicket stand. That came from Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, who were beyond incredible in their approach. Although they were much helped by some absolutely filthy bowling from India, the lack of runs at the top has been costly for the Proteas in the last three years. In the same time period, South Africa have only managed three 90-plus run partnerships (Thursday was number three) and the combination at the top has been changed quicker than the weather in Cape Town changes. That’s been a struggle for South Africa, but what is clear is that the combo of Amla and De Kock works very well together. The pair have now three partnerships of 80 runs or more, all of them coming at the top of the order. This leaves selectors in a pickle, of sorts. They need to make a call whether Graeme Smith is still needed in the one-day team and whether pushing De Kock down the order is the best for his development. Does Smith’s experience trump De Kock’s blossoming or do they make the decision to stick with a youngster and start grooming him for the future?
With the truncated tour, BCCI cut their nose to spite their own face
The decision from the BCCI to shorten India’s tour to South Africa has already caused much ire in many different quarters. However, the list of those who might be feeling aggrieved has just become longer. It was clear that India had not acclimatised to South African conditions. Their bowlers had no clue how to bowl on the bouncy tracks and their batsmen were uncertain with how to fend off some fiery bowlers who know exactly how to exploit their conditions. India, and their fans, might be feeling quite annoyed that the shortened schedule did not allow for a single warm-up match to give India at least some time to adjust. Things will get better as the tour progresses, but India will probably find that, as soon as they have settled, the tour will be over. Durban, where the next ODI is taking place, will be a different beast and will offer far more assistance to the spinners, but it’s still disappointing that their players were simply expected to waltz into comfortable conditions. India’s bowlers conceded 84 runs in the last five overs and 100 in the last six – the most since 2002. That speaks volumes of not only inexperience but the lack of adjusting to conditions, too.
Dale Steyn vs. India’s batsmen is going to be a treat to watch
Dale Steyn has set the tone for the kind of approach he will take for the remainder of the series. It’s going to be brutal, relentless and he’s going to be properly fired up. His first spell at the Wanderers was enchanting and poor Rohit Sharma had no answer for him. It took 16 deliveries before Sharma even managed to get bat and ball from Steyn. It was all in good spirits, though, and it was just typical Steyn. Somehow, he remained wicketless in his first five overs, and although De Villiers held him back a bit late he got his reward in the end. Steyn’s pace, accuracy, swing and everything else that makes him the world’s best fast bowler at the moment helped South Africa seal a very convincing win.
Great fielding and dodgy consistency in the bowling
Both David Miller and Steyn managed some spectacular efforts in the field, with Miller and Steyn both effecting a run out. It was a welcome relief after some dodgy efforts against Pakistan in the one-dayers they recently played. India had their moments in the field, too, and without a few stops in the field, the total conceded by their bowlers could have been far worse. What was surprising, though, is how few wides India conceded. There were just four in total whereas South Africa’s “backup bowlers” were woefully inconsistent with 24 wides in total. Sure, Highveld conditions do play a part, but that kind of consistency is completely unacceptable. Allan Donald will need to set his charges down and have a couple of stern words with them.
Getting angry with Indian players for their administrators makes no sense
The South African public has, since the news of the truncated tour broke, expressed their discontent with the decision. Some have threatened to boycott the tour completely while others have simply suggested that the Indian players will be “aware” of their anger. Cricket South Africa don’t take such threats lightly and, although most of them were mere talk, they have been prompted to beef up security for the tour. Vitriol on Twitter and possibly some abuse from the crowd will all come with this tour. But it makes very little sense to take out those frustrations on the players themselves. When it comes to player welfare in India, the players don’t matter all that much. Money, power and politics means far more. There isn’t even a player’s association set up in India; there are very few people fighting in the corner of the players. The truth is that the Indian players did want a longer tour, they did want to Test themselves against the best team in the world, but it doesn’t matter because what they won’t doesn’t fit in with the agenda of the BCCI.
Photo: South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers (R) makes a run with JP Duminy during their first One-Day International (ODI) against India in Johannesburg December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.
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