#SAvIND ODI Series Decoding: India romp to ODI series victory as SA left to lick their wounds

1 month ago Yash Soni 0

This must go down as one of India’s greatest ODI series wins of all time. Beating South Africa on their own turf, in such a resounding fashion, was nothing short of a statement to the rest of the world. This Indian side would be the one to beat, come the ICC World Cup in England in 15 months’ time.

There was no question that India outplayed their compatriots in every department, in every game, barring that rain-marred Pink ODI at Jo’burg. The most important phase of play where the games were won and lost, was the middle overs. There was an immediately noticeable difference in each team’s performance between overs 10 and 40. India averaged 175/2 in the overs 10 to 40, at a rate of 5.83 across the six games, while South Africa in the same period of play averaged 148/6 at just 4.93 RPO. The major problem from the point of view of the hosts wasn’t so much their run rate in those middle overs, but it was the number of wickets they lost between them.
Unable to pick the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who bowled in tandem weaving their webs to trap the batsmen on the front foot, was the primary reason SA couldn’t create any noteworthy partnerships.

Aside from the spin twins, it was also India’s top order who deserve all the plaudits coming their way. Their top three, consisting of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, averaged 28.33, 64.60 and 186.00 respectively. Albeit Rohit Sharma had a poor series by his standards, Virat Kohli who had an absolutely smashing one, more than made up for it. He scored 558 runs in 6 games, scoring three hundred and one fifty.

In comparison, South Africa’s top order had an absolute stinker. Hashim Amla continued his poor run in ODIs scoring just 154 runs at 28.33. His partner Quinton de Kock played only two games after succumbing to a wrist problem which ruled him out of the remaining ODIs as well as the T20 series to follow. Faf du Plessis, South Africa’s rock at number 3, and their newly appointed full-time ODI skipper scored a magnificent hundred in the first ODI and looked like the only one capable of picking the spinners. But another finger injury ruled him out of the remaining games after their talismanic superstar AB de Villiers was already ruled out of the first three games, picking up a similar finger problem on the minefield of a pitch in Jo’burg in the third Test.

The loss of three of their best batsmen meant that South Africa was never able to consolidate in the middle overs, and could not stop India from sweeping up a 3-0 lead before the hosts could throw a punch.
They did manage to throw a jab on India’s collective jaws, in the 4th ODI, or aptly called The Pink ODI at the Wanderers. One could argue that one of the major reasons they did win that game, was that they were spared from playing what had proved to be their downfall in the previous three games – the middle overs. Rains, who have not been particularly kind to the South African persuasion over the years, came to their rescue in this game, shortening the game to 28 overs and forcing them to adopt a T20 mindset by taking on the spinners.

Just when the spirits in the home dressing room had lifted a tad after that win, the visitors came back strongly, winning the remaining two games and proving that the game at the Wanderers was just an anomaly, rather than a sign of things to follow. India’s domination in the middle overs continued as they bowled the hosts out for 201 and 204 in those two games, wrapping up the series 5-1, and in the process claiming their first ever bilateral series victory in the Rainbow Nation.

Throughout the course of the series, there were plenty of records broken and many new ones were created. Here are a few of them:

  • Most runs scored in a bilateral series in ODIs:

Virat Kohli – 558 vs SA, 2018 (6 games).

  • Most wickets by a spin pair in a series/tournament:
    Kuldeep Yadav (17) and Yuzvendra Chahal (16) – 33
  • India’s first bilateral series win in SA, after 4 unsuccessful attempts.
  • SA’s heaviest defeat in a bilateral home series, equaling their defeat to Australia by the same margin in 2001/02.
  • Most 100s as captain in ODIs:

22 – Ricky Ponting (220 innings)
13 – Virat Kohli (46)/AB de Villiers (98)
11 – S Ganguly (143)

  • First Indian to score three 100s in a bilateral series: Virat Kohli.

A word in tribute to Virat Kohli, the modern-day genius. Frankly, one falls short of words to describe this phenomenon of a cricketer. Ravi Shastri said it well at the press conference after the final ODI, that he might need to pick up an Oxford Dictionary on his way home to find a word that might come close to describing who is arguably the best ODI batsman of all time.

#SAvIND ODI Series Decoding :India romp to ODI series victory as SA left to lick their wounds
Virat Kohli celebrates his 35th ODI hundred.

He now has 35 ODI hundreds in 200 innings, to go with 46 Fifties. One of the things that makes him the player he is, is the fact that he delivers with such a mind-blowing consistency. His average of 58.11 is unprecedented. You could have all the talent in the world but if it isn’t delivered regularly, you would always fall short of the ‘elite’ category. And right now, Virat Kohli is synonymous to elite. He just does it everywhere, across all formats, against all oppositions, with unmatched consistency and skill. There’s just no stopping him.

Moving forward, India will go to the T20I series brimming with confidence and in bullish form. Their preparations for the World Cup next year couldn’t have got off to a better start. With a top order as good as any in the world, two wicket-taking wrist spinners who could do a job in any conditions, and a young pace attack blossoming nicely, there isn’t much to lose sleep over. Though there does seem to be an over-reliance on the top order and the middle order has been largely untested. That would be one point of concern for India going forward, but other than that, this is a team already being considered favourites under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.

Meanwhile, things aren’t as rosy in the South African camp, with morale at an all-time low after a crushing series defeat. They would argue that the absence of AB, Faf and QdK in most of the games has been the major reason of their middle over collapses. While that may be true, there are some deeper concerns that need to be dealt with immediately. The bowling department, barring KG Rabada, has looked toothless for the most part, while Imran Tahir looked surprisingly blunt. Hashim Amla’s form has been concerning, while JP Duminy and David Miller have been very inconsistent throughout their career. If this golden batch of superstars is going to win the World Cup in what might very well be their last chance at glory next year, things must change and change fast.


India romp to series victory as SA left to lick their wounds
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India romp to series victory as SA left to lick their wounds
India's unprecedented thrashing of SA sees them go No. 1 in the ODI rankings,
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Global Daily Tribune