SA thrash hapless India

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South Africas openers, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla notched up another 150+ stand with almost nonchalant ease. Picture: Anesh Debiky

Durban -

Kingsmead, which has become something of a graveyard for SA cricketing hopes in recent years, was transformed into the happiest of hunting grounds for the Proteas on Sunday when they thrashed India by 134 runs to clinch a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.

It was a day of many parts, beginning with a moving ceremony to honour the memory of the late Nelson Mandela. With both teams lined up in front of the north stand, a visibly emotional Proteas captain AB de Villiers spoke of his admiration for the great man: “Let us now, more than ever, stick together as a nation. We owe him that much,” he ended his tribute in front of a crowd of 15 563 spectators.

His heartfelt plea certainly motivated his own team when the action finally began 90 minutes late after the damp outfield had been allowed to dry out. With the field speckled with patches of sawdust, MS Dhoni had no hesitation in inserting the Proteas once again, as he did at the Wanderers.

Unfortunately for the Indian captain, the result was similar, with South Africa’s openers, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, notching up another 150+ stand with almost nonchalant ease. Apart from a few testing moments against the new ball, the pair did much as they pleased against an attack that was almost as flat as it was in Joburg.

India had made three changes from the first ODI, with first-string pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav replacing Bhuvi Kumar and Mohit Sharma, who struggled at the Wanderers. Another change was forced upon the Indians with Yuvraj Singh pulling out sick, enabling Ajinkya Rahane to take his place.

For South Africa the only change was Vernon Philander for Wayne Parnell, with JP Duminy given the spinning duties. Despite the changes to their pace attack, none of the Indian pacemen really worried the South African openers, who made hay on an excellent Kingsmead pitch.

There may not have been the pace of the Wanderers track, but the bounce was even and batting became increasingly easy for the two men against bowling that tended to be too short.

De Kock dominated the stand, playing his trademark drives, pulls and clips through midwicket as fearlessly as ever. What the 20-year-old has quickly learned, however, is that he doesn’t need to be in too much of a hurry. His shot selection, in other words, has improved immeasurably and his second consecutive century, and third in the last month, seemed almost inevitable.

When it came, with a nudge off his legs for a quick single, the crowd rose as one to acclaim the boy wonder who, if he continues in this vein, will surely consign Graeme Smith’s ODI career to history. Amla played with typical assurance, striking his century in 117 balls for his first international hundred at this ground.

It is, perhaps, ironic that he made this minor breakthrough the season after he controversially left his local franchise after 13 years to join the Cobras.

Once again the two men had established the innings on a firm foundation, and it didn’t seem to matter too much that there was a minor collapse in the middle order, with the Indians managing to recover some lost ground by restricting the Proteas to 280/6 – a total that was only achieved after a productive last over in which Ryan McLaren and Philander smashed 20 off Yadav.

Once again, however, the difference in the pace, intensity and accuracy of the respective fast bowlers was plain to see.

Dale Steyn, magnificent at the Wanderers, once again bowled with venom as he, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel chopped off the head of the Indian batting order by taking four key wickets in the first 10 overs.

Virat Kohli, who had been involved in a verbal battle before the match, saying that the Indian batsmen were not afraid of Steyn and co, was greeted with a ferocious 145km bouncer first up before quickly submitting to Tsotsobe for a duck.

Thereafter the game was effectively over, with the only tension being over whether 20 overs could be completed to constitute a match.

Some brief drizzle caused the Proteas some concern, but it quickly went away and although Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin played some pleasant strokes, they were in the context of a dying fall as the tourists tamely succumbed for 146 in 35.1 overs.

The Mercury

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