India thrashed South Africa by 9 wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Things keep going from bad to worse for South Africa, who now also have to deal with de Kock being ruled out of the series along with du Plessis.
As in the first match, the spinners controlled the game for the Indians. Chahal took his first five-wicket haul in the previous match, while Kuldeep took three himself. Can South Africa possibly handle things until Devilliers potentially returns for the fourth ODI, or will India go 3-0 up?
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur
Hashim Amla, Jean-Paul Duminy, Aiden Markram (c), David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Khaya Zondo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Heinrich Klaasen, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Farhaan Behardien
Where the teams stand
For all the doubt that was cast on India for playing outside the subcontinent for the first time in two years, they are in a surprisingly good position. The batsmen are finally backing up the bowlers, and it is working wonders. First, the batsmen held their nerve to chase down 270 in the first ODI, and then the Indian spinners dominated on a pitch that was very conducive to slow bowling. Dhawan and Kohli have looked in particularly good touch in both of the ODIs, but one slight concern for them is the lack of time the lower middle order has had out in the middle. Neither of Jadhav, Dhoni and Pandya have batted in the matches so far, and if India suffers a collapse, it will be a huge imposition on them to save the innings. If India bowl first again and restrict the Proteas to a low score, Kohli might want to promote a couple of those three to the top.
Few Indian teams have bowled as well as India have abroad this tour. The Chahal-Kuldeep pair is at its lethal best, outshining the pacers who have been chipping in with wickets as well. Spin remains a major weakness for the Proteas, and the Indians have been capitalizing on it effectively. This is especially convenient with a batting lineup very prone to collapses and off-days, and the bowlers will be confident they can save the day if required. The bowling has been consistently good throughout the tour, and the third ODI is unlikely to be any different.
South Africa’s effort to win the next game must begin with them winning the toss. If they lose and India bowl again, things could go very similar to how they did in the second ODI. The Proteas absolutely need to bowl first and try to restrict India to a chase-able score. They made the mistake of curating the pitch for the second game to be spin-friendly, a terrible error in judgment. Markram needs to rely on his pacers to get him wickets on seeming tracks the way they did in the Tests. The Proteas do possess fantastic bowlers who have the potential to force an Indian collapse, but with India two games up, it will still be a tall task.
The Proteas’ batsmen need to develop an appropriate strategy for tackling spin. AB Devilliers will not be able to save this team alone even if he does manage to make it for the next game. Playing out the spinners without losing wickets should be their primary focus. A lot will rest on how Amla, Markram, and Miller play, especially Amla, who will get the most opportunities against pace. All it takes is one good game to turn things around, and if some of South Africa’s stars start contributing, its game on.
India win. Too many if’s surround South Africa and their capability to withstand the Indian spin duo. India have been consistent in the two games played so far, and they look like good for another win.