Janneman Malan’s well-compiled 91 helped South Africa stroll to a seven-wicket victory in the second ODI against India at Paarl on Friday. With it, South Africa won the three-match series with a match to spare, leaving India much to think about in a tour gone horribly wrong after the first Test win in Centurion. Defeat is part of the game, but this capitulation could trigger serious introspection after India let South Africa roll them over for back-to-back matches on a subcontinent type pitch. The batting failed to consolidate on good starts, the bowling has been unimaginative, snaring just seven wickets in two matches, and the fielding has been woefully under-par at times. It has been, in short, dismal.
At one point of time, South Africa were coasting at 212/1 in the 35th over before two wickets in two overs – Jasprit Bumrah bowling Malan before Yuzvendra Chahal brilliantly held on to Temba Bavuma’s return catch – slowed down the Proteas. By then, too much damage had been done and India simply did not have enough firepower to make anything out of that brief window of opportunity. Rassie van de Dussen and Aiden Markram added 74 runs for the fourth wicket.
South Africa wrapped it up with 11 balls to spare but perhaps the writing was on the wall when Rishabh Pant missed a stumping of Quinton de Kock in the eighth over. It was as easy as it came, Ravichandran Ashwin tossing up the ball to lure de Kock into skipping down the pitch. de Kock missed the hoick, the ball spun away, leaving Pant all the time in the world to glove it and whip off the bails. But he missed it. Never going to let go of that opportunity, de Kock raced to his fifty in 36 balls and set up South Africa’s chase with a 132-run opening partnership. The next stand of 80 runs literally pushed India out of the game.
It was that kind of a day too. Difficult it may be to imagine what would have happened had Pant not missed that stumping, but India would have also not reached 287/6 without his 71-ball 85. On a day Virat Kohli got his first duck since December 2019, Pant’s 115-run stand with KL Rahul was the reason India were poised to cross the 300-run mark when they took drinks at 179/2 after 31 overs. But a cluster of wickets right after that drove a wedge in India’s plans of making it big towards the end. The middle-order frailties were once again palpable as Shreyas and Venkatesh Iyer struggled to score off South Africa’s spinners, consuming precious deliveries before being dismissed when they should have counterattacked. Shardul Thakur once again salvaged a rescue act with a 38-ball 40, raising 48 runs with Ashwin for the seventh wicket but India couldn’t keep up with the projected score, ending up with only 70 runs in the mandatory third Powerplay.