2nd ODI: India batters must play sensible hand in crunch contest
The onus will be on captain KL Rahul as well as the middle order as India face a must-win situation when they take on South Africa in the second ODI of the three-match series, at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday.
Some of Rahul’s on-field decisions, his sluggish batting and the middle-order batsmen’s inability to deliver under pressure were among the reasons for India’s defeat in the first ODI, while South Africa benefited largely from twin tons by captain Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen.
India have little time to right the wrongs, but they have to get the job done in order to avoid another series defeat after a slip-up in the Test leg of the tour.
It will also be interesting to see whether India make any changes to their XI. After all, it’s just one failure as of now, while India have also bounced back in the recent past to win bilateral series.
With the Boland Park pitch likely to dry out further because of the heat in Paarl, spin will again play an important role. No wonder India would be praying that they win the toss and opt to bat first, and then unleash both Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal against the Proteas batsmen in the second half.
Credit has to be given to both Bavuma and Van der Dussen for the way they tackled spinners Ashwin and Chahal in the opening game. They employed the sweep shot to perfection, which went a long way in negating both the bowlers.
Besides, South Africa’s left-arm spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi pitched the ball in the right areas, something the more experienced duo of Ashwin and Chahal couldn’t quite do the other day. The quicks had done a good job initially during the first ODI to keep the Proteas batsmen under control, so it’s imperative for Ashwin and Chahal to follow that up and ensure India don’t squander the advantage.
Besides, the team management also needs to be clear about Venkatesh Iyer’s role. If he continues to be in the side, it’s only fair to give him some overs to bowl, especially when the regular bowlers are struggling to take wickets.
South Africa head coach Mark Boucher has been charged with gross misconduct by Cricket South Africa (CSA) in a follow-up to the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report and will face a disciplinary hearing chaired by senior counsel advocate Terry Motau. That might cause some distraction in the home camp.
Boucher, though, remains in his role and will be with the team when the second ODI gets underway. On Thursday, the CSA named Motau as chairperson of the disciplinary hearing into the allegations of racial misconduct against Boucher.
“It is proposed that the parties (Boucher) will meet with Advocate Motau on January 26, 2022, to determine a timetable for the proceedings,” CSA said in a statement.
(Match starts: 2pm (IST). Live on Star Sports)