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India vs South Africa: Hosts back Quinton de Kock to be ‘X-factor’ despite recent woes

Despite his recent poor run, the South African cricket team still trusts Quinton De Kock at the top because the team considers him an X-factor in limited-over series.

cricket Updated: Jan 30, 2018 23:52 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Durban
India vs South Africa,Quinton de Kock,Indian cricket team
Despite his recent poor run, the South African cricket team still trusts Quinton De Kock at the top because the team considers him an X-factor in limited-over series. (Getty Images)

The last time the Indian cricket team were here, it were the starts at the top from South African batsmen that knocked them out as they failed to win a single game. Opener Quinton de Kock hit centuries in each of the three ODIs to help his team score 300+ twice and close to 300 once.

Against an inspired South Africa bowling line-up, led by Dale Steyn, and their athletic fielding, the scores proved just too much.

The Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman, however, is enduring a woeful run as India had the measure of him in the just-concluded Test series. De Kock averaged just 11.83, scoring 71 in six knocks, including two first ball ducks.

While the Tests were a battle between the two sides’ bowlers, batting will take centre-stage in the ODIs and which of the two top-orders does well will probably have a bearing on the series.

Despite his poor run, the South Africans still trust De Kock at the top. It is not just because he was their lone bright spot in batting at the Champions Trophy and scored heavily since then in the ODIs against Bangladesh, but also because the team considers him an X-factor.

And considering that AB de Villiers will sit out of the first three ODIs due to a finger injury, his role becomes more important.

“With Quinny, he’s a personality that doesn’t think too much about technical stuff. He’s a free spirit, x-factor player,” Du Plessis had told the South African media a day back.

De Kock’s ability to counter-attack when the need arises is what probably Du Plessis is referring to. His counter-attacking batting in the 2016-17 Test series Down Under was chiefly responsible for the Proteas’ series win there.

“I think the white ball is coming at a good time for Quinny, it will unshackle him,” said Du Plessis. “For Quinny, it is just confidence. As soon as he gets one innings where he’s hitting the ball in the middle again, he’ll just jump straight back onto that boat of relaxing and just playing his game.”

If he does, it may put India in a bit of difficulty as they found out in their Champions Trophy tie. Till the time he was at the crease, a South African victory was assured as both him and Hashim Amla began well. But once De Kock was out for 53, the balance of the game tilted.

Rohit Sharma, however, believes that what happened back in 2013 doesn’t bother them.

“Yes, their top order is solid, experienced and they have scored runs all over. But when we came last time, our guys (bowlers) were inexperienced, hardly played in overseas conditions. Now all these bowlers have enough experience, they’ve got the job done in Test series as well,” Rohit said on Tuesday.

“The important point is that we don’t want to focus on just one or two batsmen as some other might run away with the game. Same for us.”

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 23:33 IST