Virat Kohli is a superstar, but he is no Superman, so expecting him to deliver in every tight situation is unfair.
At the Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday, Kohli, after back-to-back unbeaten 50-plus scores, had an off day as he perished after scoring only 12. But the rest of the Indian batting line-up, barring Suryakumar Yadav (68), surrendered to a disciplined South African pace attack.
Poor batting turned out to be one of the main reasons behind India’s five-wicket loss to the Proteas, who are now on top of Group 2 with five points from three games.
Following India’s first defeat in this T20 World Cup, Pakistan’s prospects of making the last four become stiffer as they may now have to exit even if they win their remaining two matches. But that’s not India’s concern.
What the Indian team management must be worried about at present is the chinks in their batting getting exposed once again on a wicket having fair assistance for the quicks. The South African quicks, taller and broader, focused on hitting the deck hard which seemed to be good enough to rattle the Indian batting line-up that limped to 133 for 9 batting first.
Precisely, if not for Suryakumar’s quality knock, India may not have reached even three figures. That too, playing with an extra specialist batsman in the form of Deepak Hooda, who came in place of left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
The impatience of some of the batters, including captain Rohit Sharma, was also a reason behind India’s low total.
With the ball thereafter, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami did well to keep India in the hunt. But Aiden Markram (52), enjoying let-offs in the form of a dropped catch and a missed run-out chance, and David Miller (59 not out) showed that much-needed patience and cashed in on the scoring opportunities when well set as South Africa eventually reached home with two balls remaining.
With figures of 4/29, Lungi Ngidi vindicated the faith South Africa had in him, as they brought the pacer in for left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi because of the conditions.
All that Ngidi did was focus on pitching the ball at a good length or just short of it. And with that, he got one to hurry on to skipper Rohit, who miscued that. Ngidi also removed KL Rahul, making him look like an amateur.
Thereafter, well-directed bouncers to Kohli and Hardik Pandya helped him wreck India’s batting order. At 49 for 5 in the ninth over, India were already on the backfoot.
With some luck, Ngidi could also have had the better of the supremely in-form Suryakumar, who was ultimately dismissed by Wayne Parnell (3/15).