Debutant Du Plessis rescues South Africa
It's easy to see what Jacques Kallis brings to the table when he's playing. Ironically, it becomes even easier to realise that when he isn't part of the squad.cricket Updated: Jan 19, 2011 01:30 IST
It's easy to see what Jacques Kallis brings to the table when he's playing. Ironically, it becomes even easier to realise that when he isn't part of the squad.
South Africa miss not only his top-notch all-round skills, but also the balance he lends to them. The team, as being witnessed in this series, looks terribly short on batting with Graeme Smith going in with five specialist bowlers.
After the stunning loss at Johannesburg, where the long tail cost them dear, one would have expected South Africa to strengthen their batting. However, to one's surprise, South Africa shortened their batting further by getting in a debutant all-rounder, Francois du Plessis, in place of a specialist batsman.
The move appeared to have backfired terribly until the debutant put his hand up and shared a vital 110-run partnership with JP Duminy to bail out his team from an imminent disaster.
Du Plessis, who has been picked up by the Chennai Super Kings, came in at a potentially disastrous 90 for 4, and laboured his way to a fighting half-century.
With the long tail staring at their face, the duo had no choice but to build up a partnership picking up singles and twos.
They did that really well, but that also ensured that South Africa would never post a big total.
And when they fell while trying, without success though, to accelerate the run rate in the last few overs, the lack of depth in their batting again came to the fore. The tail again failed to wag, and South Africa were bowled out for 220.
For India, though, it was almost a perfect day in the field. They bowled well, and fielded even better, especially when it came to catching. Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel were brilliant upfront; they didn't allow the South African openers to get into any sort of rhythm and, as a result, the hosts had a sluggish start.
Harbhajan Singh, who came in to bowl in the powerplay, further tightened the noose with some tight bowling. South Africa were already struggling to score runs, and Harbhajan's two wickets pushed them deeper into trouble.
The only blemish on the otherwise almost perfect show in the field was the way Duminy and Du Plessis managed to build up a 110-run partnership, mainly through singles and doubles. Perhaps, India could have put them a bit more under pressure.
Apart from the bowling effort, fielding and catching would have left India skipper MS Dhoni pleased. Catches by Virat and Zaheer were simply breathtaking, along with run-out efforts.