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Team India call the shots this time

Shreyas Iyer proves once again that in ODI cricket, he certainly has it in him to be a match-winner
A picture on BCCI Twitter of Shreyas Iyer en route to his unbeaten 113 in Ranchi on Sunday.
A picture on BCCI Twitter of Shreyas Iyer en route to his unbeaten 113 in Ranchi on Sunday.

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 10.10.22, 03:00 AM

He may not feature in Team India’s T20I scheme of things at present, but Shreyas Iyer proved once again that in ODI cricket, he certainly has it in him to be a match-winner.

In Lucknow last Thursday, his 50 wasn’t enough for India to win the game. But in the second ODI, at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday, which was a must-win game for the Shikhar Dhawan-led side, Shreyas produced an even better knock of 113 not out off 111 balls.


Besides, he and local lad Ishan Kishan (93 off 84 balls) stitched a breathtaking stand of 161 for the third wicket as the Indian team motored to a seven-wicket win over South Africa and restored parity in the series.

Courtesy Shreyas and Kishan, India overhauled South Africa’s 278 for 7 with as many as 25 balls to spare. Against a full-strength South African bowling attack, this surely would go down as a commendable showing by the Indian batting group that was without regular captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, all of whom are busy with preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

A massive amount of credit would go to both Kishan and Shreyas as they refused to buckle down even after India were in a spot of bother when they lost both Dhawan and Shubman Gill with only 48 on the board in the ninth over. The duo had faith in their game and methods and took no half-measures whenever they felt the ball was in their arc.

Agreed, South Africa’s total after they won the toss and opted to bat first wasn’t at all a match-winning one. The dew, too, made batting far easier in the second half. Yet, there was a possibility of things going awry for India after losing both Dhawan and Gill, who played a few gorgeous off drives but perished against the run of play.

Besides, Kishan, going in at No.3 on this occasion as Ruturaj Gaikwad was replaced by off-spinner all-rounder Washington Sundar, was under pressure after a scratchy time out in the middle in the previous game. Thankfully, Shreyas being in fine rhythm eased matters for Kishan.

Taking a little bit of time to settle down, the left-hander then executed his shots to perfection that not just made the equation easy for India, but also turned the heat on the Proteas bowlers who were struggling to deal with the dew in any case. As many as seven maximums came off Kishan’s blade as he grew in confidence during India’s run chase.

In other words, Shreyas’ batting with supreme authority at the other end helped Kishan focus totally on his style of play as his execution of the strokes turned out to be perfect. Besides, such a game-changing knock came at his home ground and he couldn’t have asked for anything better. 

When Kishan departed just seven short of three figures, India still had 70 more to get. But there was still enough batting to come and on top of that, Shreyas looked simply flawless. Kishan’s departure had no effect whatsoever on him as he just kept playing his strokes and rotated the strike with Sanju Samson (30 not out) en route to his second ODI hundred.

As for the Proteas, they once again misread the conditions. Yes, it was a dry wicket, but the dew factor was something the visitors should have considered.

In spite of removing both the India openers early, their bowlers messed up, with the quicks in particular trying to bowl too fast which made run-scoring easier for the Indians. 

Siraj spell

Mohammad Siraj (3/38) took the prized scalp of Quinton de Kock early and also gave away just 12 in his last four overs at the death. That turned out to be one of the significant aspects of the game. Importantly, India conceded only 57 in the last 10 overs of South Africa’s innings.

Opener Reeza Hendricks (74) and Aiden Markram (79) were the chief scorers for the visitors.

Bengal all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed also did a decent job in his debut international game. The left-arm spinner stuck to his basics, giving away just 25 in his first six overs. India’s bowlers also ensured David Miller (35 not out) didn’t have much of the strike in the closing overs.

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