The World Cup Chronicles: India loss necessary jolt for South Africa




MS Dhoni’s India defeated 2015 ICC World Cup favourites South Africa to send a bold signal to all detractors who were counting the Men in Blue out. Not many thought India would be able to get past South Africa on a bouncy Melbourne wicket with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander heating things up. South Africa, on the other hand, got a reality check that no team, irrespective of the conditions, can be taken for granted based on academics. However, despite being handed a smashing defeat by India, the Proteas are top title contenders and this loss is a jolt they badly needed.

The World Cup Chronicles: India loss necessary jolt for South Africa

The World Cup Chronicles: India loss necessary jolt for South Africa

Besides the bowling of Imran Tahir and AB de Villiers’ fielding, there was not a single positive for South Africa in the match against India. Even after getting Rohit Sharma early, the men from the Rainbow Nation could put pressure on India, allowing Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane power the Men in Blue to a 300-plus total. The injury to Vernon Philander did not do them any good but having a third seamer in Wayne Parnell, South Africa cannot complain.

It would not be wrong to say that India bowled out of their skins against the Proteas and were backed up by surprisingly exceptional fielding. The twin failures of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock coupled with run outs of de Villiers and David Miller proved to be fatal for the Gary Kirsten-coached side. Needless to say, South Africa will go back to the drawing board and try to analyse the changes they need to make.

Wayne Parnell might still keep his place in the side with Philander getting injured but he cannot be sure of it, considered how costly his spell proved to be against India. Replacing Parnell with Rilee Rossouw and Philander with Kyle Abbott is likely to be South Africa’s next move. The game against West Indies will be played at Sydney and considering the wicket, bringing in Rossouw, who is in pretty decent form (two hundreds against WI in ODI series), would not be a bad option.

Anyone who is willing to write off South Africa should do so at their own peril, just like they did for the Indian team. A team with Amla, de Villiers, Steyn, Morkel, Miller and Duminy can hardly be counted out of contention for the big prize. Moreover, the only thing the loss to India will cost South Africa is a chance to top Group B, which means they might end up playing Sri Lanka in the quarter-final. After twin failures against Zimbabwe and India, both Amla and de Viliers would be raring to go against the West Indies and should that happen, the men for Caribbean are in real trouble.

The loss against India has put South Africa on their toes and will hold them in good stead throughout the tournament. Against India, they did not look like World Cup contenders and the form, sooner or later, is likely to come back. Not to forget, in Gary Kirsten, South Africa have a coach and man who knows what it takes to get a team to win the World Cup and his Buddha-like demeanour will certainly help ease Proteas nerves. And then there is Aland Donald, the man who wishes he would have run those 22 yards on June 22nd, 1999.

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