De Kock, De Villiers devastating

South Africa recover from early setbacks through twin centuries to reach 301/8

De Kock, De Villiers devastating

Rohit Sharma had stressed on the need for India to show their competitive streak in the third one-dayer after two abject surrenders at the Wanderers and Kingsmead that cost them the series.

On a bright Wednesday afternoon, Indian bowlers showed their competitive side briefly, reducing the South Africans to 28 for three in the eighth over. But once Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers built a massive stand, the visitors once again lost their way.

De Kock and De Villiers made their third and 16th ODI tons respectively, en route to a 171-run alliance that set the foundation for the home side’s formidable 301 for eight in 50 overs. The Indian chase was delayed by the weather as heavy rain hit the venue.

The main protagonist of the day undoubtedly was the young De Kock, who made his third consecutive hundred of the series. He became only the fifth batsman to score three centuries on the trot in one-dayers, the others in the club being Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, de Villiers and Herschelle Gibbs.

It wasn’t, however, a blemish-free innings like the ones he played in the first two one-dayers as Indians offered him two reprieves. On 37, Ajinkya Rahane dropped a sitter at short fine leg off Umesh Yadav, and six runs later Yuvraj Singh grassed a rather tough chance running from mid-on off R Ashwin.

De Kock didn’t need further invitations to make the most of the chances, moving smoothly towards a hundred. The much-cherished moment came when he turned Mohammad Shami to the leg-side for a single, sending the crowd into raptures.

They had much more to cheer as De Villiers too found his range in explosive fashion. De Kock and his skipper had to do the rebuilding job, and at the same time they needed to ensure that the run rate didn’t fall too much below the line.

They managed that in clever fashion, rotating the strike with well-taken singles and doubles and then opening up with some beefy shots. Just as the partnership moved swiftly towards bigger proportions, Ishant Sharma, who completed 100 wickets in one-dayers on the day, breached De Kock’s defence with a delivery that clipped his bails.

But his dismissal didn’t slow down the South African scoring rate, and if anything, it only accelerated the process. De Villiers, in the company of David Miller, milked 53 runs in quick time as South Africa breezed past the 250-run mark in the 42nd over. The home side was looking for a bigger score than their eventual 301 at that stage, and they had two set batsmen and plenty of overs to do that.

Yadav inflicted a timely strike, removing De Villiers who was in pristine touch during the entire duration of his knock. De Villiers tried to clip a ball to the on-side while shuffling across the stumps and Yadav won a leg-before appeal against the South African skipper.
The return of De Villiers somewhat stymied the South African scoring as Miller, who found his touch with an unbeaten 56 off 34 balls, struggled to find a steady partner at the other end.

The Indian bowlers should also be given some credit as they managed to choke the South African late order batsmen with some precise bowling. Ishant, who was India’s most successful bowler with four wickets, Yadav and Shami employed yorkers with good effect in the death overs, and it indeed was a rare sight.

They had also been quite effective in the initial overs, shackling De Kock and Hashim Amla.
The Indian pacers bent their back and purchased some bounce from the track to keep silent the South African opening duo, who had stitched together two successive 150-plus stands in the series.

Amla departed first, flicking a waist-high full toss from Shami straight to Yuvraj inside the ring, while Henry Davids and Jean Paul Duminy fell victim to Ishant’s impeccable line outside the off-stump. But the South Africans still managed to reach a strong total despite those early blows, leaving the Indians a mountain to climb under lights.

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