India off to disastrous start

India off to disastrous start

De Kock slams brilliant 135 as South Africa crush Dhoni's men by 141 runs

India off to disastrous start

Indian batsmen just didn’t have any answer to the pace, bounce and swing of South Africa’s six-man pace attack, crashing to a massive 141-run defeat in the first one-dayer here on Thursday.

Indians might have prepared -- mentally and at nets -- to counter the hosts’ pace battery, but it turned out a lot more ugly in real time. Once South Africa built 358 for four around Quinton De Kock’s fine hundred, it was clear that India had a tough chase at their hand, and all they could garner was a paltry 217.

One comforting thought, when India began the chase, was the way they had scaled down some improbable targets recently against Australia. But Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Lonawabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell on a lively Wanderers pitch proved a different fish altogether.

As usual, Steyn set the tone with a wonderful opening spell, putting Rohit Sharma in all sort of trouble. Rohit, who has been in superb touch in recent times, took 16 deliveries to put bat on the ball against Steyn, conceding two successive maidens to the world’s premier fast bowler.

At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan made a rather promising start against Tsotsobe, but the introduction of pacey Morkel signaled the end of his stay, an ill-timed pull ending in the big gloves of De Kock.

Virat Kohli and Rohit offered some resistance during their second wicket partnership, but a McLaren outswinger gave marching orders to Kohli.

The right-arm pacer jettisoned Yuvraj Singh with the oldest two-card trick in cricket. McLaren softened up Yuvraj with a brutal bouncer in the first ball, and then cleaned him up with a fuller length ball. The run-outs of Rohit and Suresh Raina made India’s defeat certain, and there was a token resistance by skipper MS Dhoni, who made a valiant fifty, and the late order, but it just delayed the inevitable.

Earlier, Indian bowlers too dished out a shabby effort that gave the impression of the pitch being a benign one.

Their skill levels may be indisputable, but a set of experienced South African batsmen exposed Indian bowlers’ lack of experience at this level, carving a gargantuan total.
The three Indian seamers -- Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami -- did trouble Hashim Amla and De Kock with their movement and bounce early in the innings, but that wasn’t enough to get India the much-desired breakthrough.

Sensing the futility of persisting with the quicker bowlers, Dhoni pressed his go-to man R Ashwin into service. Ashwin gave some width to De Kock and the left-hander garnered two boundaries in consecutive balls and the Chennai off-spinner was dominated for the rest of the evening. Just as the alliance seemed to swell into something bigger, Amla dragged Shami on to his stumps after making a fluent 65.

The enthusiasm of the near full house spectators reached a crescendo when De Kock crossed the three-figure mark in 101 balls with a single. But more misery was in store for Indians as De Kock joined hands with AB de Villiers, and the South African innings motored away like a Ferrari from that point.

After De Kock’s dismissal, De Villiers (77 off 47 balls) and Jean Paul Duminy (59 off 29 balls) stitched together a blazing 105-run stand for the fourth wicket in 7.4 overs.

The Indian bowlers were left with no ideas against that sustained onslaught, and former South African pacer Shaun Pollock, who predicted their every delivery with some accuracy in the commentary box, best demonstrated their plight.

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