5 demons that Virat Kohli’s India exorcised against South Africa

viratIt was the perfect opportunity for South Africa to do away with their “chokers” tag. They were facing a strong, yet seemingly underwhelmed Team India, who have their own dressing room problems, according to various media reports.

To add to that, the tame loss against Sri Lanka did not do India any good, especially considering the fact that they had put up a massive total of 321, and that they boast of a fearsome pace attack consisting of the likes of Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Hardik Pandya.

However, the South Africans, who were coming on the back of a defeat of their own, against Pakistan, had their own demons to face; something that they could not recover against India.

Here are some key areas where the Men in Blue got the better off South Africa and went on to win the do-or-die encounter in the penultimate match of Group B.

The toss:

With the Kennington Oval offering a good batting pitch, it was imperative for Team India to chase the game, especially as their bowling attack was so badly exposed in the last match against Sri Lanka.

Virat Kohli and co had the psychological advantage from the first minute itself, as their tried and tested batting lineup would know exactly at what pace they would have to score in the second innings, in order to chase their target down. The first innings was all a matter of restricting South Africa to as low a total as possible.

Poor running between the wickets by the Proteas:

India are generally regarded as one of the fittest sides in the world of cricket, in the modern era. However, Virat Kohli’s men have not lived up to that billing, in the initial stages of the tournament during the games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Against South Africa though, the Indians brought their A-game to the field, affecting two run outs at a crucial stage of the innings. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock had given the Proteas a steady start, and all that was required for their middle order was to use that as a launch-pad to up the scoring rate in the middle overs, when the field is generally more spread out.

The Indian fielders inside the circle showed great alertness, causing confusion between the South Africa batters. Seeking a quick single, the dangerous AB de Villiers was removed cheaply.

While de Villiers’ wicket increased the pressure on Faf du Plessis and David Miller, in a momentary lapse of reason, the two found themselves scampering towards the same crease, as Virat Kohli gathered a weak throw from Jasprit Bumrah and whipped off the bails at the other end.

Both these run outs occurred in close succession, at a time when South Africa were looking to up the ante. In boxing terms, this could be referred to as a “one-two blow”.

Ravichandran Ashwin – The X-factor:

Virat Kohli may have dropped his ace spinner from the first two group stage matches, but a virtual quarterfinal against the world no. 1 ODI side is a completely different proposition.

Ravichandran Ashwin was instrumental in getting the breakthrough wicket for India, after de Kock and Hashim Amla put up a solid 76-run partnership off 105 balls.

While that was the only wicket that the Chennai lad got in the match, he was instrumental in tightening the screws on the South African batters, with Ravindra Jadeja bowling from the other end.

The spin-twins managed to control the middle overs for India, which eventually helped them restrict the South Africans to a paltry total of 191; the duo had a combined economy rate of 4.31 from the 19 overs that they bowled.

SA innings never took off:

Both Amla and de Kock had gotten South Africa off to a solid start. However, it was in the middle overs (exactly where India had lost the plot against Sri Lanka), that India pounced upon them, and seized their opportunities.

Quick wickets bogged the Proteas down, and they were left with very few wickets in the death overs, which prevented them from launching into the overdrive mode.

Composed batting by Dhawan and Kohli:

They may have had a low total to chase down, but Team India needed to reach their target nonetheless. The early wicket of India opener Rohit Sharma was exactly what the Proteas would have been hoping for.

However, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan exhibited excellent composure to ease their side closer to their target. The fact that the target itself was low helped their cause to some extent, as they absorbed the pressure exerted by the South Africans. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

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