Indians stumble at Rajkot

Cricket Third ODI : De Kock slams century as South Africa score 18-run victory to take 2-1 lead

Indians stumble at Rajkot

 In what appears to be the theme of this series, a team, seemingly in a position of strength, imploded once again in the face of self-inflicted pressure.

Indian bowlers had done a commendable job of restricting South Africa to 270 for seven after the visitors had won the toss and elected to bat in the third one-dayer here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium on Sunday. South Africa’s total had been built on the back of Quinton de Kock’s brilliant 103 (118b, 11x4, 1x6), his eighth career century.

The threat of disruption of the match had fizzled out after the arrest of the leader of agitating group and as the evening progressed, India’s chase too disintegrated. After Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 65 (74b, 7x4, 2x6) at the top of the tree, Virat Kohli (77, 99b, 5x4), who came in at No 3, and MS Dhoni (47, 61b, 5x4) shared an 80-run association but for about 10 overs of their association, the two showed inexplicable lack of urgency, their task only exasperated by the pitch which got progressively slow. From over number 32-39, Kohli and Dhoni gathered just 24 runs that pushed up the required run-rate.

Still, with 86 required off the last 10, India could trust two of their finest ODI exponents to take them home. Against a disciplined visiting attack, led brilliantly by man of the match Morne Morkel (4/39), they couldn’t have their way. Dhoni, Suresh Raina (0), Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane fell in the space of 20 balls that effectively killed the game as a contest. The Indian innings folded at 252/6, as South Africa emerged an 18-run winner and took a 2-1 lead.

Earlier, the Indian bowlers restricted South Africa to a total far less than the visitors threatened to post during their start-stop innings which was splendidly anchored by the young de Kock. The left-hander, who had struck three consecutive hundreds against India in 2013 in South Africa, brought up his fourth century in just seven games against them. The 22-year-old kept South Africa in front till the 40th over with an innings of quality that not only tested his skills but stamina as well in the oppressively hot conditions.

De Kock provided a good start to raising 72 runs for the opening wicket along with a promoted David Miller (33). Bhuvneshwar Kumar opened the bowling with a maiden over but after that the two southpaws had the measure of the Indian pacemen as runs came at a fair clip despite a heavy outfield.

The introduction of spin, offie Harbhajan Singh, as early as the eighth over indicated the pacers ineffectiveness on a dry surface. There was no immediate success for the hosts but Harbhajan and Amit Mishra, who replaced Umesh Yadav, put a check on the flow of runs. Between overs nine and 23, the Proteas managed just 57 runs while losing both Miller and Hashim Amla. Miller was smartly caught at short third-man by Rahane when he miscued Harbhajan while Amla was stumped smartly by Dhoni off Mishra.

South Africa, however, snatched the momentum back with a productive stand between du Plessis (60 off 63, 6x4) and de Kock for the 3rd wicket that was worth 118 runs. Du Plessis was out on 16 when he couldn’t time Mohit Sharma’s slow delivery and was caught in the deep by Kohli. Replays, however, showed Mohit had overstepped and du Plessis went on to complete his third fifty of the series.

Cruising at 205/2 in the 39th over, South Africa appeared set for a 300-plus total when some smart cricket by India and a bit of indiscretion on the part of the batting side changed the course of the innings. Du Plessis tried one scoop too many against Mohit and paid the price.

AB de Villiers ran for a cheeky single and the cramping de Kock was too slow to beat the throw by Shikhar Dhawan. The next ball, De Villiers was caught plumb when he failed to execute his attempted cut. Three wickets in the space of nine balls got the home team back in the game much against the run of play. But the South African bowlers ensured the total was good enough.

score board

De Kock (run out)    103
 (118b, 11x4, 1x6)
Miller c Rahane b Harbhajan    33
(41b, 4x4)
Amla st Dhoni b Mishra    5
Du Plessis c Bhuvneshwar b Mohit    60
(63b, 6x4)
De Villiers lbw Axar    4
(5b, 1x4)
JP Duminy c Raina b Mohit    14
(14b, 1x4)
Behardein (not out)    33
(36b, 1x6)
Steyn (run out)    12
(9b, 1x6)
Rabada (not out)    0
Extras (NB-1, W-5)    6
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs)    270
Fall of wickets: 1-72 (Miller), 2-87 (Amla), 3-205 (du Plessis), 4-210 (de Kock), 5-208 (de Villiers), 6-241 (Duminy), 7-264 (Steyn).
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 10-1-65-0 (w-2), Mohit 9-0-62-2 (nb-1, w-2), Harbhajan 10-0-41-1 (w-1), Mishra 10-0-38-1, Axar 9-0-51-1, Raina 2-0-13-0.
Rohit c & b Duminy    65
(74b, 7x4, 2x6)
Dhawan c de Villiers b Morkel    13
(29b, 2x4)
Kohli c Miller b Morkel    77
(99b, 5x4)
Dhoni c Steyn b Morkel    47
(61b, 5x4)
Raina c Miller b Tahir    0
Rahane c Miller b Morkel    4
Axar (not out)    15
(11b, 1x6)
Harbhajan (not out)    20
(17b, 1x4)
Extras (B-2, LB-1, W-8)    11
Total (for 6 wkts, 50 overs)    252
Fall of wickets: 1-41 (Dhawan), 2-113 (Rohit), 3-193 (Dhoni), 4-206 (Raina), 5-216 (Kohli), 6-216 (Rahane).

Bowling: Steyn 10-0-65-0 (w-1), Rabada 10-039-0 (w-3), Morkel 10-1-39-4 (w-1), Duminy 8-0-46-1 (w-3), Tahir 10-0-51-1, Behardein 2-0-9-0.

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