As usual, India begins the ODI series against South Africa with a loss.
It is almost fascinating to see how almost every series starts with India delivering a match that questions not only the side but also the rankings.
The 3 match test series against South Africa started with India losing pathetically but ultimately managing to pull off a respectable draw. The single T20 match ended with India’s comprehensive victory, it was almost as if all the players had a point to prove to all their “owners”, the auction being round about the same time, their pockets were heavy and the mind was light.
The ODI world cup being 37 days away, everyone’s eyes are glued for the favourites so it is only natural for them to expect fireworks not malfunctioning robots. It is possible the Indian team like to make a dramatic entrance so hopefully in the next match they’ll come out on top.
The day started badly for the Indian team with MS Dhoni losing the toss and Graeme Smith deciding to bat first. It started well enough but Ashish Nehra single-handedly lost the game for India on the 12th of January 2011. He looked out of sorts getting hit for 4’s one after another and just couldn’t find his length. Even so he took the wicket of skipper Smith; he made 11 runs of 15 balls.
Hashim Amla made a worthy contribution of 50 runs 36 balls by the time which thankfully Munaf Patel claimed his wicket. He also dismissed Colin Ingram while he was just on 5.
This is when the problem started, with the 4th wicket partnership of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy. AB de Villiers made 76 runs of 69 balls and JP Duminy made 73 runs of 89 balls, both made the match winning runs with special thanks to Ashish Nehra of course.
The Indian batsman tried their level best to reduce the South African total for them to be able to target. Suresh Raina was brought into bowl and took the wicket of David Miller who made 9 runs of 11 balls. Rohit Sharma was also brought in to bowl and took two wickets that of both the match winners JP Duminy and AB de Villiers, Rohit Sharma managed to do something none of India’s pace or spin could do.
Harbhajan Singh was not menacing at all, he only managed to dismiss Johan Botha who made 23 runs of 27 balls. Bhajji better get his act together for the next few matches as without his usual form it will be impossible to win the next 4 matches so for his and the teams sake he better find whatever he lost that day.
Zaheer Khan also took 2 wickets, both of which were tail-enders so even he wasn’t playing his regular game that day. He got Steyn who made 7 runs of 9 balls and Morne Morkel who made 0. By the end, Wayne Parnell who made 21 runs of 19 balls and Lonwabo Tsotsobe who made just 1 run remained not out.
India was left to chase 289 runs at 5.78 runs per over, a healthy total but not an impossible one.
The Indian team batting score card was nothing to write home about. Openers Murli Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar seem to have had an off day, Murli Vijay made 1 run of 3 balls and the Little Master made 7 run on facing 11 deliveries. Vijay was dismissed by Steyn who seems to be taking a wicket after every spell and the little master was dismissed by Tsotsobe.
Virat Kohli seemed to stick around while everyone opposite him was making guest appearances. Kohli made 54 runs of 70 balls which was a valiant effort considering no one else wanted to help. Rohit Sharma made 11 runs of 27 balls was dismissed by Morne Morkel. Yuvraj Singh made only 2 runs of 4 deliveries was again dismissed by Morkel, Yuvraj seems to have lost himself along with his form. Skipper Dhoni arrived but only just, he made 25 runs of 35 balls, many including myself were probably hoping for Dhoni to come and play the kind of game which got him into the team in the first place, but that was no to be, his captaincy has changed his game, where he was a brutal hard hitter now he is a reserved strike rotator. Dhoni was dismissed by an unlucky run out by Parnell when Kohli’s attempted straight drive managed to brush against Parnells hand to hit the wickets on the opposite side where Dhoni was clearly out of the crease.
Suresh Raina arrived looking to salvage some respect for his side and managed to a little. He made 32 runs of 36 balls but it was only a matter of time before he was faced with some short ball he couldn’t play, in his attempt to hit out he got out, his wicket was claimed by Tsotsobe.
Harbhajan Singh made 0 was dismissed by Parnell, Zaheer Khan made 6 runs of 16 balls was dismissed by Tsotsobe and Ashish Nehra made 1 run was also dismissed by Tsotsobe, Munaf Patel was not out.
As was expected Lonwabo Tsotsobe got his well deserved man of the match award at the presentation ceremony for his 4 wicket haul.
For Indians who stayed up till late to watch this match it was definitely not a goodnight.