India vs South Africa | Talking points from 5th ODI in Port Elizabeth

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India vs South Africa | Talking points from 5th ODI in Port Elizabeth

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Bastab K Parida


The "wait for the Godot" has finally ended for Team India as a Rohit Sharma century propelled the visitors to a 4-1 series win in Port Elizabeth today. While Hashim Amla was the best batsman for the hosts, the Virat Kohli - Rohit Sharma run-out made headlines for all wrong reasons, once again.

Brief Scores: India 274/7 (Rohit Sharma 115, Virat Kohli 36; Lungi Ngidi 4/51, Kagiso Rabada 1/58) beat South Africa 201 (Hashim Amla 71, Heinrich Klaasen 39; Kuldeep Yadav 4/57, Hardik Pandya 2/30) by 73 runs.

Amla’s slight change in technique helped 

Recent struggles notwithstanding, it is an established fact that Hashim Amla is one of the best batsmen in the modern era. The fastest man to score 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, and 7000 ODI runs, however, was in a terrible run of form and failed to sustain in front of India’s brilliant planning and execution in the first four ODIs. However, the stark problem was that there was a set pattern to his dismissals and apart from the Wanderers ODI in which he hit Kuldeep Yadav against the turn and failed to cross the short boundary, all his other dismissals have been eerily similar and in fact, the pattern was actually begun in the Centurion Test. A Jasprit Bumrah short of a length delivery skidded through and caught Amla plumb in front and India then found a plan.  

While after that, Bumrah got him out two times in the series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar also found the inside edge once. However, Amla understood the mistake and didn’t allow any room for an inside edge today. He planted his front foot forward and thus made the in-swinging balls dead with an angled bat. While the hosts were successful in pinning him down at the crease and then trying to go past the inside edge, they afforded him more width today, to which Amla easily nullified to score a 71-run innings.

Rohit shrugs off his struggle with a century of his own

While Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were scoring in every match this series, the biggest talking point of the series was the failure of Rohit Sharma – another member of India’ s new famous triumvirate. However, he brushed off that indifferent run of scores in this ODI series to get his 17th ODI ton. However, it was not the classic Rohit Sharma innings that we have fallen in love with – there were apparent scratchiness even after he completed the century.

Unlike a normal Rohit Sharma innings which feels like a heavy-metal song, this one had more disarming tone. It was one of his slowest hundreds but had the same effect of leaving the opposition outmanoeuvred and at the end of it all, South Africa learnt Rohit’s fragile genius in a hard way.

So, what he did right today? In the first four matches, his weight transfer got him into trouble and that’s why he ended up playing shots off the front foot. His head was always somewhere in the middle of the body, and that's why Kagiso Rabada beat him time and again by sneaking through his defence every now and then. But today, he played on the front foot mostly that ensured the body weight was going forward. Due to the low bouncy nature of the wicket, he got into the position of the ball easily and apart from the first few deliveries, he didn’t throw his bat around on every outside off-stump delivery.

Kohli needs to tone down his ridiculous single calls

Today, he was at the receiving end and at a time, the run was not there for taking. The legend of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma run-out saga has added yet another instance to Kohli’s growing problems while calling for singles. While there is no doubt to the fact that the Indian skipper has been one of the fastest runners between the wickets, he has often shown poor communication skills with his batting partners in the last few years and today’s dismissal has just added another chapter to the infamous narrative. 

However, the problem is that Kohli fails to hide the dissatisfaction on his face, independent of who was dismissed. While he misjudged most of the singles, his facial expressions are mostly that of a child trying to vent out the frustration after a wicket is lost. There is no doubt that Kohli is a titan of the game and the best thing to have happened to the Indian cricket in the 21st century and his fitness regimen has been exemplary. However, he needs to understand that everyone is not as fast in between the wickets and in the realisation of this lies the stronghold of India’s new-found top-order heroics.

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