Written by Maverick White for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
South Africa vs India | Sunday 08 December | Kingsmead, Durban | 10:00
Putting it lightly, the thrashing India received at the Wanderers on Thursday evening was an interesting turn of events. India have never fared well in South Africa, but of the five ODIs that they have won in the country, two of them have come under MS Dhoni. Irrespective, the world’s number one side in the format were, quite simply, outclassed. Proteas fans have waited patiently for days like Thursday; ODI cricket for South Africa has been a wholly disappointing affair for quite some time. That is not to say they are out of the woods, with an unpredictable pitch awaiting them in Durban. One game doesn’t win the series.
South Africa 13/20
A Quinton de Kock masterclass and a typically measured and peaceful Hashim Amla innings gave South Africa its first century opening stand in 68 ODIs. Three years is a long time. Captain AB de Villiers had been brash in comments leading up to the match, dismissing India’s bowlers as being far from world class. His words became a prophecy, as the Proteas laid waste to the Indian attack. South Africa’s 20-year-old opener made his intentions known early, and hardly slowed on his way to his maiden ODI century at home, 135 from 121 balls in a whirlwind of talent. Natural ability can spoil if not tended to correctly. It is now the responsibility of the Proteas management to ensure such a bright spark does not go to waste, with many youngsters not only injury plagued, but not afforded time back in domestic cricket when slumps in form inevitably take their toll.
Jacques Kallis failing once again is a worry. But best it happens when the Proteas need him least, as the captain and JP Duminy added 105 in 7.4 overs to propel South Africa to 358/4. In all honesty, as well as the Proteas batted, it wasn’t a 350 wicket. The Indian death bowling, as well as the new ball bowling up front, gifted the Proteas the runs. Nevertheless, it had to be followed up by a good performance with the ball. Dale Steyn found prodigious swing and terrorised Rohit Sharma and Co, while Morne Morkel tested the Indian batsmen with the short ball. Even Ryan McLaren picked up wickets, a bowler I thought would be slaughtered by India’s formidable batting line-up. Unfortunately, I think that day is still to come.
MS Dhoni must be fuming. A day after he has defended his bowlers to the world, they concede 358. Truth be told, AB de Villiers is right. The Indian bowling attack is not all that special and concede 300+ regularly, although this is easily and often blamed on the subcontinental tracks being batsman friendly. They will need to adapt soon, though Durban will probably be of a slightly slower nature, bringing the spinners into play. Tropical storms in Durban usually make for a sticky wicket, so India may find something more akin to what they are used to. This won’t help their batting lineup much however, as the ball is likely to swing and the bounce is still much steeper than anything the subcontinent has to offer.
India did get a poor deal on the schedule. Undercooked for a Highveld wicket, they were found wanting. Their captain has said the schedule can’t be blamed for their poor performance, and perhaps the aura that surrounded Sachin Tendulkar at home against the West Indies as he bade farewell to cricket was worth the humiliating loss on Thursday. Either way, India’s side is packed with strength and they have the ability to fight back. The question is, do they have the ability to adapt?
The nature of the pitch has been covered above, but what is exceptionally interesting about the venue is that India have only ever won at it against England. They have never beaten South Africa at Kingsmead, losing by 135 runs in their last outing in 2011. There’s a 30% chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Let’s hope it stays away long enough.
BEST: Man of the Match, JP Duminy 16/1
This is a bet for the brave, but the value is too good to pass up. Duminy has a penchant for scoring runs in Durban, seldom top scoring, but often being a key member of partnerships. In his innings on Thursday, he looked in fantastic knick as he clubbed the Indian bowlers to all areas of the park. He also almost always gets a bowl in Durban, which could also be key on the wicket they are likely to get.
If you’re in search of another good bet, AB de Villiers to top score at 4/1 is good value. He loves scoring runs at Kingsmead and did so against the Indians two years ago.
VERDICT: South Africa 13/20
Durban may be closest India get to tasting victory, but something tells me there’s more to India’s problems than a simple poor performance. They looked lost attempting to play Dale Steyn, and it was he and Lonwabo Tsotsobe that sparked the Indian collapse in 2011. The Proteas are short, but should come out on top once again.
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