IND vs SA | Vizag Day 5 Talking Points: Piedt-Muthusamy’s grit and Mohammed Shami’s second innings genius

IND vs SA | Vizag Day 5 Talking Points: Piedt-Muthusamy’s grit and Mohammed Shami’s second innings genius

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India wrapped up the proceedings in Vizag on the final day with a solid bowling performance from Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja. While the former put on a masterclass of seam movement, Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy stood tall to give their top-order a lesson on the go.

Piedt-Muthusamy’s grit takes the cake 

On a day where finishing things was just a formality for the Indian cricket team, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja made a mockery of the South African batting in the first session. They almost inflicted an Afghanistan 2018 embarrassment for South Africa but thanks to the duo of Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy, the difference came down to 203 runs. 

In the truest sense, there was no venom on the surface as it generally does on a Day 5 Indian wicket, and it stayed true throughout the day. The cracks that opened up on Day 3 and 4 became prominent on Day 5 and the first two wickets of Mohammed Shami hit the cracks and the seam held its line after pitching. While the ball being low affected the entire top order and middle-order batsmen, with South Africa being reduced to 70/8, the way Muthusamy and Piedt ground down was a lesson in itself.

By keeping their head down, they patiently waited for the ball to come to them to negotiate the turn against Ravindra Jadeja and when Ishant Sharma and Shami were taking the ball away from him, they ensured they guided the ball with the pace to find the occasional boundaries on the third-man side. By adding 121 runs for the last wicket, the duo ensured South Africa were saved from blushes. It was a lesson in grit, focus, and determination. For the kind of effort that Muthusamy showed with the bat, it is a shame that the term "spinner" has been noted after his name, and not all-rounder.

How good is Mohammed Shami

One could question Mohammed Shami’s fitness, one could question is his ability, one could question his discipline, but with a ball in hand, Shami is a captain’s dream. It is not because what he could do with it rather the intent that he adds to every spell and however bad at times that seems, Mohammed Shami bowls with panache and vigour, with his heart fully embroiled in the game to take that timber for a walk. He had bowled for India while his 14-month-old daughter was in the ICU, and don’t tell me he wasn’t up for the challenge that was thrown at him.

After a rough first innings, where he was taken to the cleaners, and couldn’t do the same damage, Shami had been so good in the second innings that the memories of the first dig seemed like a long time ago. As Cheteshwar Pujara said in the press conference yesterday, the cracks were going to help pacers equally considering the seam movement would be prominent and Shami exploited that, as most of his balls held its line. The balls to dismiss Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma are a pacer’s dream and the way he exhibited it added to his second innings legend, even further.

Since the start of their tour of South Africa, which is pretty much the start of the last year, no fast bowler from India has bowled more balls than Shami and it is a big tribute to him that he has been on the park all along. Except for the Test against Afghanistan and one against West Indies, Shami has played every Test for India since the start of 2018 and throw any number, he has an equal share as any. A resilient fast bowler, who bowls a bad ball too many, but he is the bowler a captain would love to have him in his side, seven days a week. 

Hamza for de Bruyn - does this sound valid now?

When he swept his way to a maiden Test hundred on the last day of the series before a Rangana Herath six-for helped Sri Lanka to a 199-run win, Theunis de Bruyn was touted for bigger things. But since that century, a defiant 101, his reputation has somehow diminished with regular underperformance at the top level. To put things into perspective, he averages 14.38 in Test cricket if you take that knock away and this doesn’t suffice for a further long run. 

This also seems the right time for Zubayar Hamza to get into the team. South Africa's 100th Test cricketer since readmission and showed his quality with a 41 against the quality of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and Shadab Khan on his Test debut against Pakistan earlier this year. With a first-class average of over 50, Hamza has been a Test-batsman-in-the-making for the last three years with a hundred against a Board President's XI in a three-day game in Bengaluru last year. 

Of course, it will be harsh on de Bruyn to be singled out and make him suffer all the wrath, but in the pretext of series going out of the hand, it would be wise of the South African team management to have someone like Hamza in the team, because you never know, fresh blood can do wonders to the team. Hamza’s quality will also enhance if he gets a go-ahead in conditions completely alien to him and the lack of perspective might rush in the kick to do well, that might not happen against the quality of Indian spinners otherwise.

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