After a Twenty20 series defeat and a loss in Sunday’s first One-Day matchup, India sorely need to start a revival when taking on South Africa once again in ODI action in Indore on Wednesday. South Africa have relished their tour of India thus far, winning three of the four matches played between the sides. In the most recent contest, the Proteas held off the chase from India and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to prevail by five runs at the start of the five-match ODI series.
And Dhoni is a man under scrutiny, not only because of India’s wayward performances in the limited-over formats, but because of his own individual form. Now aged 34, Dhoni stepped away from the Test captaincy last year, but has stayed on as leader of both the One-Day and Twenty20 teams. Yet, for so long regarded as the world’s premier finisher of an innings, again on Sunday there were signs of his waning powers. At the crease with a reachable target, and 11 runs required going into the final over, Dhoni was caught and bowled as he and his team fell short.
“When you bat down the order you have to take the blame,” Dhoni said after the defeat, reports the Indian Express. “When you have finished a lot many games, people remember more about the games you have not finished. “It is a gamble [playing the role of finisher]. Sometimes it pays and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Dhoni’s problems are exacerbated by a side strain that took leading spinner Ravichandran Ashwin out during the first match of the series and means he will also sit out in Indore. Veteran Harbhajan Singh is likely to step in.
Dhoni’s counterpart has no such issues going into Wednesday’s second ODI. AB De Villiers plundered an unbeaten 73-ball century on Sunday to earn the man-of-the-match award and again show why he is ranked as the best One-Day batsman in the world. There was also a helping hand from the man rated as the best bowler in ODIs, Imran Tahir, who took two wickets. In just his sixth ODI, 20-year-old Kagiso Rabada similarly impressed in taking two wickets. And South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt has put that success down to taking each ball as it comes.
“We've been really working hard at staying in the moment,” he said, according to ESPN. “In the past, we have had moments where we have lost big moments, so at the moment we are trying to stay in the big moments.”
“In India, you don't give up. You are going to go for runs. So the saying in our team is to always compete. If you go for six, you compete in the next ball. If we are competing every ball, there's a good chance we are going to win the game.”
Not everything went positively for South Africa, however. The team was penalized for a slow over-rate, with De Villiers fined 40 percent of his match fee and now facing a one-match suspension if his team commits the same offense again in the next 12 months.
Start time: 3 a.m. EDT
TV channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.TV