It couldn’t have been a more disconcerting sight than to see a furious Virat Kohli walking back to the pavilion after a mix-up with Ajinkya Rahane during the second ODI between India and South Africa in Indore. Virat made his frustration obvious muttering away a few expletives looking back many times over his shoulder. This was not the only run out, a mode of dismissal that is somehow tripping the India team in the series so far.
South Africa have got five run outs, all involving India’s top order batsmen and in reply India have managed just one.
During the Dharamsala T20, India lost both Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu to run outs. While Shikhar made a wrong dash for a double off a misfield, Rayudu was slow to respond to Dhoni’s call.
The Cuttack T20 wasn’t any different. Both Rohit and Virat were gone in a flash. Virat was trying an enterprising two, fell short by a foot, no one knew who had called for the second run — Virat or Rohit. Rohit soon followed Virat when one lightening of a throw caught him stretching for home.
On the eve of the second ODI, Rohit mildly admitted to the hara-kiri that the India batsmen committed and said ‘champion teams don’t repeat their mistakes’ and only a day later the Rahane-Virat mix-up mocked Rohit’s assertion.
The point is South Africa have extensively studied the way Indian batsmen run between the wickets and worked out a pattern.
Work has gone in to find out which batsman is starting from deep inside the crease and who is starting from the edge of the crease.
Accordingly, they have targeted the India batsmen.
The fact is that all top five India batsmen are excellent runners between the wickets and run aggressively for their singles and twos. And, this is the tendency that has been fully exploited by the South Africa fielders — they have managed to work out that fraction of a second advantage to catch the batsmen short.
“To be honest, in the build up to the series, we’ve been working really hard on our fielding. We pride ourselves in the field. It’s just looking at the venue and one day before the game we find out from where it’s easy to throw etc. On most Indian grounds, you can throw to the keeper in one bounce because the grounds are hard,” said David Miller.
One part of the preparation for the South African team has been to gauge the bounce of the outfield a day before the match. Depending on the hardness of the turf and the grass cover around the pitch, their throwing pattern is worked out.
MS Dhoni has been quite vocal about losing his key players to run outs at crucial stages. But South Africa have taken a step forward by working out the conditions so that they can add an extra yard to their throws. In case their bowlers find it hard to dislodge the Indian batsmen, their fielders are ready to lend out a helping hand.