India find tormentors in left-handers quite regularly — from Saeed Anwar, Sanath Jayasuriya to Matthew Hayden. Every time South Africa’s left-handed opener Quinton de Kock deflates the India bowling attack, comparisons are normal and statistics force us to delve into similarities. In a career spanning two years and just 52 one-dayers, the 22-year-old de Kock’s liking for the Indian bowling is illustrated in his five centuries.
Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium became his second stop in the current ODI series where de Kock notched up his career’s eighth and fifth century against India. Rajkot was his first stop of century-making in the series, and was in continuation to the three consecutive centuries he scored against India in South Africa. De Kock had scored three centuries within a space of seven days in 2013 when India toured South Africa.
There are certain things that have always worked to de Kock’s advantage. His shot construction is built on two dominant strokes --- square of the wicket and a Graeme Smith-like on-drive through the arc between mid-wicket and mid-on.
De Kock thrives on cut and pull, and alternately feeds on anything bowled around his leg. India couldn’t shackle him on both counts on a hot Sunday afternoon. A couple of misfields set de Kock up for his fifth India special.
Growing nicely into his innings, he pulled mightily, swept forcefully and flicked without flinching. India did rearrange the field, manning his favourite leg side with more fielders, but de Kock alternately came up with his inside-out shot to confuse the field setting even more.
Such was de Kock’s domination on the leg side that he, despite the heavy protection, picked up 75 runs from the on-side in his knock of 109. Another factor that allowed de Kock to flourish was the true nature of the pitch. De Kock had laboured to a century in Rajkot, battling on a two-paced pitch, but the Wankhede pitch had no such issues.
Flourishing straight drives and rasping cuts just about summed up how well he was sure of his shots. The only exception was that every time he faced Harbhajan Singh, who had dismissed him twice in the series, he was cautious.
Otherwise, de Kock’s timing was clinical, except on the occasion when Mohit Sharma dropped him on 58. His 109 left a lot for the Indian dressing room to mull over.