Two wrist-spinners weaving their magic in overseas conditions is a rare sight, and to do it two games running is even rarer. In the first One-Day International at Kingsmead, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal combined to pick up five wickets between them. They took it up a notch in the second ODI at Centurion, sharing eight wickets between them to bundle out South Africa for 118 in just 32.2 overs.
Chahal took 5/22 in 8.2 overs – his maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs – while Kuldeep finished with figures of 3/20 in six overs to derail the South African batting line-up. Shikhar Dhawan (51 not out) and Virat Kohli (46 not out), then made short work of the chase to romp home to a comfortable nine-wicket win in just 20.3 overs.
Commending the effort of his wrist-spinners, Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, was elated at his team’s performance and was confident his side would carry on the momentum in the matches to follow.
“What we thought in the morning, we did all those things right,” said Kohli after the match. “It was a much harder wicket than Durban. We thought that the ball will do a bit in the morning and again Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] and Bumrah [Jasprit Bumrah] started off well. We did not let them get too much up front.
“We knew we wouldn’t get grass on the wicket, because when it is seaming it can be anyone’s game and have the quicks to back that. We knew that the wickets will be hard and dry and the two spinners are good in any conditions. They have been picking up a bunch of wickets.”
Despite the target not being too stiff, it was important that India did not give the South Africans any way to claw back into the game. Rohit Sharma and Dhawan ensured that the visiting side got off to a quick start and cut down the target as much as possible.
“I think Rohit’s and Shikhar’s intent at the start was very crucial,” said Kohli. “They started off well in the last game too. We back guys to play positive cricket and with small totals it is always important to start positive.
“We knew their middle order is inexperienced and we will look to cash in on that. The way our spinners are bowling, we are confident about continuing the same momentum. 2-0 is a wonderful position to be in. “
On the other hand, it was a particularly rough captaincy debut for Aiden Markram. The absence of Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers had left a huge hole to fill, especially against an Indian side which has been unstoppable in the limited-overs format in recent times.
The home side got off to a sedate start reaching 39 before Hashim Amla became the first batsman to fall. Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram briefly stuck together taking their side past the 50-mark before Chahal and Kuldeep orchestrated a stunning collapse which saw South Africa going from 51/1 to 51/4 in the space of six balls.
The South African captain admitted that his side will have to make a quick turnaround in the next game.
“Not the best performance,” admitted Markram. “We will have to be honest with ourselves. It's not ideal, especially the soft dismissals, starting from myself. We have to lead from the front, and we have to remain positive. We started off with good intensity with the bat, but it was always going to be difficult to defend. But look, the day is over.”
2-0 down in the six-match ODI series might not be an ideal position to be in for the home side, but Markram was confident that this might bring out the best in his side.
“It might bring out the best from us now. We have got a couple of days to turn it around in Cape Town. We possibly cannot afford any more slip-ups.”
The next match in the six-game series begins on Wednesday at Cape Town.