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Depleted South Africa pray for good hope vs Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team

The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team are currently 2-0 ahead in the six-match ODI series against South Africa.

cricket Updated: Feb 06, 2018 19:25 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,Indian cricket team
India captain Virat Kohli (R) led the team to wins in the first two ODIs against South Africa.(AFP)

South Africans are falling like flies with Quinton de Kock becoming the latest to join the injury wagon and go out of the series. His absence leaves South Africa’s batting thirsting for even a semblance of hope as the series enters the third game.

India, on the other hand, growing in confidence with each convincing win, coupled with the hosts’ mounting problems, can afford to overlook the few hiccups of their own — like Rohit Sharma’s poor form — and continue their cruise towards what will be their first ODI series win on South African soil. They already lead the six-match series 2-0.

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The Proteas’ nets told the story. Although it is risky to base assumptions on nets alone but the many spinners out there showed the state of mind the hosts are in. To their disadvantage, none was good enough to bowl the slow, loopy variety that the South Africans have been struggling against and may want to get used to.

None of the batsmen were drawn out of the crease and when some bowlers did try to do that, they just couldn’t control the ball and land it well enough.

To make matters worse, there will be a few faces in the batting line-up, far less experienced than the three who have been ruled out.

India opener Shikhar Dhawan agreed that their spinners have managed to get a psychological edge over the hosts. “If have some confusion or doubt in your mind, its first effect is on your thinking. No matter who the batsman is, it begins to show in your batting. If they can’t read our spinners, then of course they’ll be more cautious while playing them. We do get an advantage from that,” he said.

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Not that players like JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and David Miller haven’t played good spinners before, but the fact that they haven’t applied themselves has been a let-down.

Kagiso Rabada, who spoke to the media on the match eve, was asked if the senior batsmen have failed to apply themselves. He said they wouldn’t want that kind of feeling on their mind going into a game.

As far as Indian wrist spinners are concerned, they are brimming with confidence and fancy putting this SA side, already psyched out, in trouble on any surface. Kuldeep Yadav said the other day that he can turn it on even a cemented surface as he has grown up bowling on those back home.

Cape Town has faced severe drought, with things worsening by the day and the ground authorities having struggled to water the field. Curator Evan Flint said on Monday that the hard outfield could promise more boundaries. But the hot and dry weather could aid some spin, he said which is unusual at Newlands. He, however, said he would have done his job well within the constraints if the team batting first scores in the range of 270-280.

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Rabada though expects the ball to nip around a bit especially because it’s a day-night game.

The hosts, who have won two out of three games against India here, have an outstanding record at this venue. They have a success percentage of around 85% in the ODIs here.

But records at this moment will count for little. Mentally though, India are way ahead going into Wednesday’s match.

India are likely to go with the same XI that figured in Centurion. South Africa are still looking to fill the void left by their injured top-order batsmen.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 19:23 IST