Five lessons from the fourth One-Day International between India and South Africa in Chennai on Thursday.
Team selections didn’t come off
Losing both JP Duminy and Morne Morkel to injury was a huge blow, but unfortunately for South Africa, the players they brought in as cover didn’t work out. It was a judgement call to include Aaron Phangiso and Chris Morris and the move ultimately backfired. South Africa’s tail was way too long and it became a problem as soon as India set a target of 300 for victory. Russell Domingo explained the decisions at the post-match press conference, but they will have to try something else for the series decider.
Weight of the world
Too much is expected of AB de Villiers every time he walks out to bat. He has become South Africa’s new Jacques Kallis in that regard, especially when players like Hashim Amla aren’t scoring any runs. De Villiers’ 112 against India means he now has the most ODI hundreds (22) by a South African, and he also became the South African with the second most ODI runs behind Kallis. However, De Villiers needs better support when his team is asked to chase big scores to win a game. Too often of late it seems as if De Villiers is the only one showing some fight, something that was also evident throughout the World Cup.
Bring in Elgar
Dean Elgar was flown over to India when JP Duminy was injured, but only arrived on Wednesday morning and didn’t make the starting XI. Neither did Khaya Zondo, who has been on tour since the T20 series and stayed with the team after Rilee Rossouw failed to recover in time for the ODI series. What is the point of keeping Zondo around for cover and then not select him when cover is needed? Although playing the inexperienced Zondo in a series decider is a big risk, it would have been less of a risk had he been given a chance earlier in the series. It makes more sense to play Elgar now, mainly because he offers a spin option and has more international experience.
Partnerships are key
Big partnerships are vital in ODI and Test cricket and failing to build any, especially when chasing, usually leads to a team’s downfall. That was again illustrated when Virat Kohli, brilliant for his 138, shared two partnerships of 100-plus during the middle overs with Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina to help India reach 299-8. South Africa’s biggest partnership was 56 between AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien, and you don’t need to look much further than that to know why the visitors lost.
Two spinners not worth it
Aaron Phangiso replaced the injured Morne Morkel as Domingo wanted two spinners on a slow, turning deck in Chennai, but it came to nothing as both Phangiso and Imran Tahir failed to take a single wicket between them and conceded 51 and 58 runs respectively in the nine overs they each bowled. As Graeme Smith said in commentary, if they don’t turn it on that wicket, they never will. Ironically, it was the fast bowlers Dale Steyn (3-61) and Kagiso Rabada (3-54) who did most of the damage as they have for most of the series. Playing two spinners again probably won’t happen very soon.