DURBAN – South Africa’s six-wicket defeat to India in Durban went from bad to worse, when it was confirmed that skipper Faf du Plessis had fractured his right index finger during the loss at Kingsmead on Thursday night.
Du Plessis will require three to six weeks recovery time, and is a hammer blow to a side already without the services of AB de Villiers for the first three matches.
“We were not good enough,” Du Plessis puffed, late into Thursday night at Kingsmead. We didn’t bat well enough. As a batting unit, for our second top score to be 30-odd showed that there wasn’t any partnerships,” the centurion lamented. “In a one-day game, you need two guys to get in and make a big partnership.”
While the Proteas failed to build something substantial, India’s win was sealed by the brilliance of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, who added a record 189 for the third-wicket.
It was the highest for that wicket in any match involving the two sides, and simplified the under-par target of 270. That stand was essentially the difference, and India showed South Africa that this six-match series will be far from the normal stroll in the park for the hosts.
Du Plessis admitted that his 120, in a losing cause, was one of those bittersweet things. It was important for him to make runs early, in a big series, but that almost falls by the wayside in the overall analysis. There is no I in team, after all.
While he was patient and sure with his footwork, several of his middle-order men looked unsure of how to handle the Indian wrist-spin.
That will galvanise Kohli and his plans to dominate their opponents with spin in the middle overs.
With Du Plessis now missing the rest of the series, the pressure will be on the likes of JP Duminy and David Miller, as well as young Aiden Markram to be better equipped against the turning ball.
“I don’t think it will be a blueprint for them for the rest of the series, because the wickets we play on will not play into their hands as much. Tonight they took advantage of the conditions,” Du Plessis noted.
With the loss of Du Plessis, the selectors have recalled Titans star Farhaan Behardien to the ODI squad. He was unlucky to miss out on selection for the initial squad, and he should be a seamless addition to those fit to play. Behardien is joined by Heinrich Klaasen, who has earned a maiden call-up to the side.
The addition of both players strengthens a middle-order line-up that was short of numbers after the injury to De Villiers.
Khaya Zondo was the sole specialist batsman outside the playing side on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see if he is jumped in the order by Behardien, or the selectors hand him his long awaited international debut.
The captain for the rest of the series will be confirmed on Saturday, though suggestions are that it will be handed to Duminy.