Firdose Moonda on South Africa’s Four Cardinal Sins at DelhiDecember 5, 2015
Firdose Moonda, in ESPNcricinfo, 4 December 2015, … http://www.espncricinfo.com/india-v-south-africa-2015-16/content/story/948791.html
Dropping catches at slip: The bucket hands of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis left more than a year ago, but Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis have been adequate replacements. Hashim Amla, though, who may see it as his duty as captain to station himself at slips, has not. Amla put down three catches in the India innings and South Africa were made to pay for two of them. When Kyle Abbott induced a thick edge off Rohit Sharma with a reverse-swinging ball, Amla should have taken it with both hands, but he spilled it. Dane Piedt later drew the edge from Ajinkya Rahane with a slider when was on 78, and Amla had to get low down to his left but again, with both hands to grasp the ball, he let it go. Rahane added 49 more runs to his score. Then, Abbott was left down again when Ashwin hung his bat outside offstump and the edged ball died on Amla. Ashwin was on 14 at the time, and went on to make 56.
Playing a paddle scoop of the second ball when you’re not AB de Villiers: Du Plessis had scored just 11 runs in the series before he spent three hours at the crease in the second innings in Nagpur. He obviously thought he had played himself back into form. He came in at No.5 in Delhi – two lower than usual – with the team in trouble at 56 for 3, and tried to scoop the second ball he faced over fine leg. Ajinkya Rahane saw him coming and moved from slip to leg slip to take the catch. The resultant duck made du Plessis only the second South Africa batsman since Charlie Llewellyn in 1912 to record three ducks in six innings.
Losing three of the top seven to quicks in a series dominated by spin; South Africa have been so busy concentrating on turn, they seemed to forget that India also have quicks who they should be careful against. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma got the ball to move, induced an edge from Dean Elgar, and broke through JP Duminy and Dane Vilas’ defenses to leave South Africa looking vulnerable against anyone with a red cherry in hand.
Running out of ideas and answers when they need them most: Amla has been a creative captain for most of his tenure, but on the second morning, with India still not entirely comfortable with their score, he seemed spent. He took the second new ball but spread the field, allowing Rahane and Ashwin to collect runs fairly freely. He used his best bowler from the first day, Dane Piedt, sparingly when instead he should have been applying pressure. He used Imran Tahir liberally even as he leaked runs. Later, the coach Russell Domingo had no real reasons for South Africa’s struggles other than that things had not gone their way, and that they had been outplayed. That is the decent thing to say, but fans back home will demand more of an explanation.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent