Zee Media Bureau/Suyash Srivastava
Johannesburg: A team that had won six ODI titles in a row suffered a major blow as South Africa thrashed them by 141 runs in the first ODI match played at the New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.
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The trouble began for MS Dhoni the moment he won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock began the proceedings on a watchful note, but once they were set, they displayed a superb array of strokes and sent Indian fielders on a leather hunt.
After South Africa put a massive 358 runs on the board, the Indian batsmen had plenty of problems against the fearsome pace attack of the hosts and barring MS Dhoni, no one could stay at the crease for a longer duration.
Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got their side to a dream start as they added 152 runs in the first 29.3 overs. The Indian pacers didn’t receive much assistance from the wicket and Mohammad Shami was the one to get them their first two breakthroughs.
Mohit Sharma bowled an interesting seventh over where he created two chances for his team. First he bowled a bouncer to de Kock which had some width and the left-hander played a cut shot over point and the ball fell just short of Mohammad Shami at wide third man. The very next ball, Hashim Amla got a top edge which went towards covers and fell short of Rohit Sharma.
But those were the few chances which came India’s way as South African batsmen made a mockery of the Indian bowling attack.
Once Amla and Kallis were dismissed in quick successions by Shami, skipper AB de Villiers and de Kock stitched in a quick 75-run partnership before the latter was dismissed by Virat Kohli in his first over. But that was not the end as JP Duminy joined the run-feast and along with his skipper, he added 105 runs for the fourth wicket, a partnership which was full of unconventional strokes which deflated the Indian pacers. At the end of 40 overs, South Africa were 223/2, but from there on began the real damage as the AB-Duminy duo pulverised the Indian bowlers.
It was altogether a different story when India hit the field to chase the target. Dale Steyn bowled a brilliant first over and Rohit Sharma, India’s in-form batsman looked clueless against a quality pace attack. Sharma’s ordeal ended in the 16th over when he was run-out after scoring 18 runs from 43 balls.
After Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed early in the innings, Virat Kohli played some convincing strokes, but he too perished in the 15th over of the innings, where Ryan McLaren went on to dismiss Yuvraj Singh for a second-ball duck.
Towards the end, it was all left to MS Dhoni, who tried his best to reduce the margin of the defeat by stitching partnerships. The Indian captain first added 43 runs with Suresh Raina for the fifth wicket, followed by another 50-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja. But once these two batsmen were dismissed, Dhoni tried fighting a forlorn battle for his side before being dismissed by Dale Steyn who picked three wickets in the match.
The highlight of the innings was the second-ODI ton scored by Quinton de Kock. The youngster was aggressive from the word go and the left-hander once again proved why is he hailed by several cricket experts and his team members. He was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match for his stellar performance with the bat.
The second ODI will be played at Kingsmead, Durban on December 8.