South Africa Clean Up A Hapless India 3-0 To Win ODI Series Overcoming A Chahar Charge!

South Africa beat India by just 4 runs in the third and final one-day international (ODI) at Newlands in Cape Town today that went down the wire thanks to at least one Indian batsman fighting for a win, clean sweeping the 3-match ODI Series 3-0, dishing out to India its fifth consecutive defeat in this South Africa tour including the two Tests and three ODIs. Led this time by wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock with a brilliant century (124) building a 144-run partnership with Dussen (52) South Africa put up an imposing total of 287 (exactly the total put up by India in the second ODI that SA chased easily) despite India’s change of strategy to bowl first after KL Rahul won the toss for the second time. For a change the Indian bowlers got the Proteas all out in the penultimate ball this time thanks mainly to Prasidh Krishna's 3 wickets; however, the hosts did overcome a mini collapse in the middle to put up a total that finally proved to be enough. In light of the fast-paced track the hosts brought in Pretorius replacing spinner Shamsi.  


For India opener Shikhar Dhawan (61) who was selected after a long ambiguous break gave his team a good start again and built up a 98-run partnership with Virat Kohli (65) , but the India batting failed again as has been consistent throughout the tour. However, Deepak Chahar who was given a place in the final eleven only in the last encounter had different idea. He attacked all SA bowlers all around the park and brought India to a winning position at 278/7, needing just 10 runs in 18 balls. Tragically for his great innings of 54 runs in just 34 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes Deepak got an adrenaline charge trying to hit a six and got out at that stage. His frustration sitting back at the pavilion was really heartbreaking. South Africa bowlers never gave up and kept on taking wickets till the end, Ngidi and Phehlukwayo taking 3 each, Pretorius 2 and Magala and Maharaj 1 wicket each. After the match skipper Bavuma was humble enough to say that a sense of complacency must have come into the winning team for this near loss.


In the first ODI in Paarl opting to bat first the Proteas put up a huge but attainable total of 296 thanks to two great centuries by skipper Temba Bavuma (110) and Rassie van der Dussen (129 not out) building a 204-run partnership between them and India batsmen faltered in the chase. The second ODI at the same venue India batsmen faltered again opting to bat first managing 287 runs when they looked set to cross the 300 mark and the South Africa batsmen made mockery of the India bowlers winning by 7 wickets. While there were 3 SA centuries and many partnerships up to 204 run India do not have a single century and not a single 100-run partnership.


The greatest irony of the near-destroyed Team India has been the consistent failure of their famed spinners on the rather slow pitch of Paarl whereas the SA spinning trio of Keshav Maharaj, Shamsi and Markram restricted India effectively claiming 4 wickets between them on each occasion. The inclusion of the out-of-form Yazuvendra Chahal was an absolute disaster while Ashwin could not go beyond a solitary wicket. With nothing to lose in the third ODI India tried to make amends and more irony: they dropped Ashwin instead of Chahal, and included Jayant Yadav who too failed to impress.


They also brought in Deepak Chahar and Prasidh Krishna replacing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur, and a clueless Venkatesh Iyer by Suryakumar Yadav. Why Yadav was not preferred in the first two ODIs and why a rusty Kumar was played remain mysteries which is natural only to a team playing without a soul. Besides, why this persistent Pant-obsession that seems to run through the bloodstream of the BCCI sending him ahead of Shreyas Iyer and even before Yadav in this match. A crunch-hitter like Pant had better be used as a finisher like MS Dhoni did.


This kind of all-round failure in all the departments of the game has not been seen often since the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni and of course, Virat Kohli. Even in losing matches Team India used to show a great fightback spirit. Whatever be the reasons, the cricket board killing its own team or Virat totally demoralized by the sack or the absence of Rohit, Jadeja and Pandya or Rahul not having the ability to win, a national teal cannot afford to play so tamely in all the matches in a format where India’s authority has been huge over the years. Batting collapses of the visitors have been displayed throughout the Test and the ODI Series; but in the ODI series things were further confounded by India bowlers neither able to restrict the hosts or to defend a fairly good total. Talking of the bench strength is futile as long as there is proper selection or batting line-up. The head coach Rahul Dravid must do something immediately to prevent his team’s downhill journey before it is too late.


The India Tour of South Africa-2021-22 finally concludes today which had a rollicking start on the Boxing Day Test in Centurion, but after that had a prolonged and agonizing end as far as Indian cricket lovers are concerned, the only thing to remember is the Chahar innings today. It’s not about losing matches, win and loss being the part of any game; it’s about giving a tough fight for every contest they play for the nation. Abject surrender is not what Team India has been known for.


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