India’s recent dominance over South Africa in ICC events continued as Virat Kohli’s men opened their World Cup campaign with a six wicket win at the Rose Bowl. Here are our talking points from the game.
Proteas fail to win the small moments
When you have only 228 to defend and your bowling ranks are depleted due to injury, you need to take EVERY chance that comes your way. Unfortunately for the Proteas, skipper Faf du Plessis dropped Rohit Sharma in the third over of the game when the Indian opener was just on 1. It wasn’t a straightforward catch, but not an entirely difficult one either. The drop went on to cost 121 runs as Sharma scored a fine century to take India home in a tough chase. There were a few other “what if moments” too- the ball dropping just in front of Amla at slip after Chris Morris had drawn an edge off Rohit, and David Miller dropping an absolute dolly in the 44th over.
Chris Morris delivers an inspired performance
On paper, Chris Morris has all the ingredients to be one of the world’s best all-rounders. Unfortunately for South Africa, that promise hasn’t quite translated into success on the pitch, with Morris guilty of being very inconsistent. Today though was one of his best ever performances in a Proteas jersey- top scoring with 42 (the only one to score at over a run a ball for South Africa), and then producing a fine 10-3-36-1 spell with the ball. Morris wasn’t in the selectors’ WC plans over the last year, but got into the squad as an injury replacement. If this version of Tipo turns up more frequently, he will have no problems holding down a first team spot.
South Africa’s spinners fail to have the same impact as India’s
Having lost both Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi to injury, South Africa opted to go with two spinners at the Rose Bowl in the form of Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi. Both failed to deliver- Tahir finished with 0/58 in his 10, while Shamsi was also wicketless, going for 54 in his 9. In a game where South Africa needed them to strangulate India in the middle overs after Rabada, Morris and Phehlukwayo had put the Men in Blue on the back foot in the opening stages, their performances were disappointing.
By comparison, India’s spinners took five wickets between them and consistently broke partnerships just as they were beginning to look dangerous, robbing the Proteas of much needed momentum. Yuzvendra Chahal for instance, broke both the Faf-Rassie and Miller-Phehlukwayo partnerships, and finished with four wickets.
Rabada and Bumrah deliver inspired spells
Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah are perhaps regarded as the finest bowlers in world cricket today, and the duo gave a fine demonstration of their skills at the Rose Bowl. Bumrah accounted for both Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock in a fiery opening spell. Rabada was equally good and had both Shikhar Dhawan and Sharma hopping in the middle with his pace and bounce. He broke Dhawan’s bat and got the left hander to edge one to De Kock early in his innings. On another day, with more luck, he would’ve accounted for Sharma as well- the MI star was dropped twice off Rabada’s bowling.
Should South Africa have opted to bowl first?
In their opening two games, South Africa won the toss, but chose to bowl first when batting appeared to be the better option. Today Faf du Plessis, perhaps scarred by their opening two performances, opted to take first guard. Opposition skipper Virat Kohli said that he would’ve bowled any way, and Du Plessis admitted in the post match interview that bowling first wasn’t an option because of their lack of resources in the pace department. To be fair, he probably didn’t anticipate that Chris Morris, normally so inconsistent, would bowl so well to complement Rabada! The conditions also appeared to be tailor made for Dwaine Pretorius’ medium-pace, but he wasn’t selected. Aiden Markram had made tons of runs at the Rose Bowl in his stint with Hampshire, but was axed as Amla returned from concussion, with Miller and JP Duminy (averaging 20 and 29 vs India prior to this game) both keeping their places. Several what-if moments for the Proteas, and in a tightly contested tournament, their selections haven’t worked, and things just don’t appear to be going their way.