South Africa rediscovered its hidden talents in ODI cricket by bringing in new faces mostly in their batting department and succeeded in putting up a clinical performance to thrash ,the highly rated Australia 3-0 in the ODI series. After cruising to strong victories in 1st 2 ODIs, they never put the foot off the accelerator and proceeded to thump the subdued Aussies by 6 wickets with 5 overs left in the 3rd ODI chasing a modest target of 255 with ease.
Australia batted first and looked subdued throughout their innings. Anrich Nortje bowled with fire and skill to get Warner caught behind with an unplayable delivery which pitched and left him. With Ngidi being rested, the other South African pace bowlers were on song with immaculate lengths which never allowed the Aussies to dominate. With top three falling cheaply ,it was left to South African born Marnus Labuschagne to hold the innings together and he did the repair job admirably well in the company of Darcy Short and Mitch Marsh ,both of whom scored 30s. Labuschagne batted through the innings to score a fine, resilient 108 , his1st ODI 100 in his original hometown in South Africa . However it was mostly a damage control innings with some quick runs coming in last 2 overs with Jhye Richardson (23) playing an useful cameo to take the Aussies to a modest 254.
The Proteas in their chase showed great intent against an Australian bowling attack missing Starc and Cummins, both of whom however had a subdued series. Decock and Janneman Malan scored rapid 20s but it was the middle order which showed the grit and aggression with Jon Jon Smuts scoring a fine strokeful 84 to back up his econonical bowling , Varreynne scored a fluent run a ball 50 and finally player of the series, Klaasen proving a thorn in Australia’s flesh in this series with another aggressive knock of 68no filled with dazzling strokeplay which deflated the Aussies. The Proteas winning by 6 wickets with 5 overs to spare. Smuts won the player of the match with his allround show and Klaasen with 242 runs in the series at 242 average (2 notouts) and 105 strike rate was the deserving man of the series.
With T20 being the preferred format this year , the Aussies looked short in motivation and looked rather subdued in the ODI series. Also the Proteas bowling attack did not allow them freedom to score freely and their batters completely dominated the much vaunted Australian bowling attack which looked jaded.
After a difficult season with the team going through the transition phase, the Proteas finally seem to have got the right set of players in their ODI squad . Their middle order has passed the Aussie test with flying colours with Smuts, Verreynne , Klaasen and Miller forming a solid core to backup classy Decock and promising Janneman Malan ,the openers. Malan after his good show is a late addition to the Indian bound squad. It remains to be seen how Faf Duplessis and Rassie Van Der Dussen are accomodated in the middleorder with others having performed so brilliantly vs Australia. Klaasen’s comeback has been outstanding in this format as he is playing the enforcers role to perfection in the middle order. The bowling has looked formidable with Ngidi and Nortje covering up Rabada’s absence and the support cast of Shamsi, Maharaj, Phehlukwayo controlling the middle overs excellently.
After humiliating losses in Tests and ODI series to Kiwis , India will be tested in their own conditions by a rejuvenated South Africa. With Riohit Sharma still not recovered , India will have their task cut out. They have strengthened their side by bringing back Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneswar Kumar after long injury layoffs. Shikhar Dhawan is back also after his injury. India have axed Kedar Jadav, Shivam Dube and Shardul Thakur , all of whom had been unimpressive in recent games they played. With Rahul to play as keeper batsman at no 5 , Prithvi Shaw is most likely to open with Dhawan and Gill probably getting a middle order spot if he plays in XI. With Shami rested Bumrah, Saini and Hardik will form the bowling attack and India will most likely play 3 spinners Jadeja, Chahal and Kuldeep. Remains to be seen how Bhuvneswar is accommodated in the XI. Coming back from injury Bhuvi needs some game time.
It should be an interesting ODI series specially after South Africa’s resounding ODI series win vs Australia. Any team beating Australia cannot be taken lightly , hence a hopefully a gripping ODI series is on cards.
Indian Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.
South African Squad : Quinton de Kock (capt, wk), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan.