Review- India v/s South Africa
Result: India won by 23 runs
In stark contrast to Team India’s post IPL form for the last two years, they are now looking close-to-unbeatable after scoring 3 consecutive 300+ scores (2 Warm up games) in CT 2013. They have now won 4 out of their last 5 ODI games- which includes a 3-2 series victory against England at Home.
On Thursday, India continued their unbeaten Champions Trophy streak against South Africa (3-0 now)- a team that consistently manages to look ordinary in every ICC tournament. One game into the group, and they are already the weak link- with Morne Morkel out of the campaign and Steyn struggling to regain fitness.
Except for the AB De Villiers-Peterson partnership, India always looked in control- and the margin doesn’t really explain the extent of dominance- even on the field for once. This is easily India’s best fielding team in decades, though the bowling lacks penetration as usual. For the first time in 24 months, India’s batting is clicking consistently with every single top-order batsman in form and trying to cement their places in the ODI side.
Dhoni and co. made the right decision by not picking Vijay (though ‘expert’ Manjrekar suggested he was ‘dropped’- which doesn’t make any sense because he wasn’t even a part of the squad for the ODI series against England), and Rohit Sharma seems to have found his place right at the top of the order.
Here is a brief report card:
Rohit Sharma (7.5/10)
He should be kicked for throwing away what looked to be his 3rd ODI century, after pulling one too many on 65 and well-set. Nevertheless, he weathered the early storm with conviction and hogged most of the strike smartly letting Dhawan settle down and look solid at the other end. This is his 2nd half-century in 3 ODI games, all as an opener, and this could be the mini-comeback he has been looking for. He needs to believe himself a little more and believe that he can be more than a second-fiddle to most ODI batsmen in the side.
Shikhar Dhawan (10/10)
2 International games- 2 debut centuries. Continuing from where he left off at Mohali, Dhawan destroyed the South African bowling attack under the Welsh sun and has made every Indian fan quickly forget who Sehwag and Gambhir are, in just 2 games. This is a second coming for a batsman who always held promise, but never fulfilled it for a huge part of his career- much like his opening partner.
Virat Kohli (5/10)
Not one of his best days with the bat, but still managed to score a scratchy 33. This is the difference between him and batsmen like Rohit and Vijay- where he makes his good touch count and crosses a century often, and even bad form results in a 30 that doesn’t do too much harm to his team. He is definitely waiting for the big game against Pakistan.
Dinesh Karthik (5/10)
Didn’t have much to do, because for once, India were not in trouble when he came in- unlike the warmup games. Scored a quick 14 and was active on the field- after the openers pretty much set the tone for guys like Dhoni and Jadeja to build on. Karthik can make himself the crisis man in the side, along with his captain.
Suresh Raina (6/10)
His short ball allergies got exposed again, but you have to give it to the guy- For a batsman who allegedly plays the short ball worse than Ganguly, he has scored a ton of ODI runs and has managed to retain his place in the limited overs format consistently. Then there is his fielding, and his useful middle-over bowling- combining with Jadeja to put the brakes on the SA scoring. All in all, a ‘field’ day.
MS Dhoni (7/10)
Has to be applauded for his timely bowling changes and trusting Jadeja with the bat, ball and everything else so much. He brings out the best in Raina, Jadeja and Ashwin- his CSK teammates, and however murky the situation sounds, it is a fact. He is even responsible for giving Rohit his new place at the top, a brainwave that should have come during the Kirsten era.
Ravindra Jadeja (9/10)
SIR is taking the ODI world by storm too, after owning Test Cricket against Australia. His brilliant run-out of Robin Peterson changed the tide and his accurate flat bowling only drove SA further towards the end. Not to mention his turbo-charged batting cameo at the end that took India to 332. A perfect all-round performance for a man that is fast becoming a cult in his country.
R. Ashwin (6/10)
Did enough with the ball, playing second-fiddle to Jadeja- controlling the middle overs effectively. Still needs to get back to his wicket-taking ways, but will be satisfied on a pitch that offered no help to spinners. Along with Jadeja, he could be the trump card for a balanced Indian team to win their second Champions Trophy crown.
Ishant Sharma (7/10)
Had a horrendous first spell when Robbie went after him, but he came back well and took a few crucial wickets (including Du Plessis). He adds good variety to a bowling attack that now has pace (Yadav), guile (Kumar), bounce (himself) and spin.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (6.5/10)
The new Praveen Kumar for India- he swings the ball enough but needs a few more yards of pace to be more effective. Nevertheless, he is accurate and bowled a decent spell- not going for too many while Yadav and Ishant struggled to contain their economy rates.
Umesh Yadav (7/10)
Took the main wickets of Amla and De Villiers, but was too expensive in the middle- his pace being used against him. Was a bit unlucky with the edges, but he is easily India’s best limited overs bowler, consistently bowling at more than 90mph.