Five lessons from the third One-Day International between India and South Africa on Sunday.
David Miller can open the batting
It was an interesting move by AB de Villiers to change the batting line-up. It meant Miller opened with Quinton de Kock with the rest of the order moving down one spot. The move worked as Miller and De Kock gave South Africa a great start with an opening stand of 72. The reasoning behind the shuffle makes sense, as De Villiers wants himself, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis (the best players of spin) to face the majority of India’s considerable spin bowling. It is a tactic that will likely be used in the rest of the series but is limited to subcontinent conditions.
One wicket can change everything
Both teams suffered a batting collapse at the business end of their innings, but in the end it hurt India more than South Africa. Du Plessis’ wicket led to the dismissals of De Kock and De Villiers, giving India the edge for the first time in the innings. One wicket can easily lead to two or three, and the same thing happened to India when Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane lost their wickets in quick succession to effectively end their hopes of a successful chase.
Quinton loves batting against India
This was Quinton de Kock’s fourth ODI century against India and a match-winning one at that. It was his first hundred in 11 months and his first score of 50 or more since the quarter-finals of the World Cup against Sri Lanka. De Kock battled fatigue and cramps, due to the extreme heat, to reach the milestone and never lost his head when it would otherwise have been easy to do so. He has the talent but lacks maturity; however, knocks like these shows he is getting better in that area of his game. South Africa are a much stronger team when he does well.
Have India found the right batting line-up?
MS Dhoni has reshuffled the batting line-up in every game of the series so far, but it arguably worked best on Sunday when Virat Kohli came in at N0 3, which many feel is his best position, and Dhoni at N0 4. Kohli scored his first fifty since the World Cup and Dhoni, who wants to bat at four but has doubts about the rest of the batsmen, chipped in with a valuable 47. India needed more from Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane to chase down the target of 271 but the top order certainly looks a lot stronger now.
Faf is the glue
Faf du Plessis has now scored a fifty in each of the three ODIs (62, 51 and 60) that have been played thus far. He has grown into the N0 3 role brilliantly although that might now change with David Miller opening the batting. Still, Du Plessis is in great form and gives the players around him, like Amla and De Villiers, the freedom to score freely. Du Plessis is the glue of that batting order, just like Jacques Kallis used to be for many years. He has become, together with De Villiers, the wicket opposition teams will want the most when facing South Africa.