T20 Cricket: South Africa overcome crowd trouble to clinch series


October 5, 2015

Brief Scorecard: South Africa 96 for 4 (Duminy 30*, Ashwin 3-24) beat India 92 (Raina 22, Rohit 22, Morkel 3-12) by six wickets

Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy were made to wait to clinch the series – Associated Press

October 5, 2015

Brief Scorecard: South Africa 96 for 4 (Duminy 30*, Ashwin 3-24) beat India 92 (Raina 22, Rohit 22, Morkel 3-12) by six wickets

Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy were made to wait to clinch the series – Associated Press

CUTTACK – Soon after India’s innings folded for 92 in the second Twenty20 International against South Africa at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Monday (October 5), the crowd from Gallery No.3 threw water bottles on the ground for at least ten minutes. The condemnable act created a disturbance for the policemen, cameramen and VIP guests sitting alongside the boundary line, but it was the best idea the unruly fans could think of to express their displeasure over India’s second worst batting performance – 74 against Australia in Melbourne in 2008 being their lowest score – in the game’s shortest format.

R Ashwin used his intelligence to pick up three scalps, but South Africa had few problems in their six-wicket win amidst a farcical situation. South Africa were 64 for 3 in 11 overs when the notorious crowd from No.3 stand, this time joined by Gallery No.2, shamed themselves once again. Play resumed after a 23-minute break, only to be stopped yet again after two overs.

The police got into the act, as the public announcer asked the crowd from Gallery No.2 and No.4 to come down to No.1 and No.3 stands respectively. Farhaan Behardien fell to Axar Patel when play started after a 27-minute break this time, and by the time JP Duminy and David Miller achieved victory in 17.1 overs to seal the series with a 2-0 lead, the venue wore a deflated look.

Much before the crowd controversy, South Africa backed their decision to field on a fresh pitch in Cuttack’s first-ever T20I with attacking bowling and sharp captaincy, and were aided by some insensible running between the wickets by India.

Having learnt from their Dharamsala experience, where they were expensive at the top end of India’s innings, South Africa dried up the runs by sticking to a back-of-the-length channel, and targeted their short balls to the bodies of the Indian batsmen.

Once only four boundaries were allowed in the Power Play overs, by when India had also lost two wickets, the pressure was clearly on the batsmen to shift gears. It resulted in the home side collapsing like a pack of cards.

While Albie Morkel, in his first international game in 19 months, was the biggest beneficiary with career-best returns of 3 for 12, his success was set up by the four bowlers who preceded him.

Shikhar Dhawan fell in the fourth over when he shuffled slightly early, and then tried to play across the line to a full and straight delivery from Chris Morris. CK Nandan, in his international debut as an on-field umpire, had an easy decision to make.

Two balls later, a hesitant Virat Kohli was found out by Morris’s strong return from midwicket at the batting end, going for the second run. Not long after that, Rohit Sharma, last game’s centurion, could not beat David Miller’s direct hit from point. And, Ambati Rayudu was kind enough to miss an inswinging full toss to give Kagiso Rabada his first international wicket on Indian soil.

A lazy Mahendra Singh Dhoni offered no footwork to a wide ball from Morkel, and AB de Villiers lapped up a low catch behind the stumps. Then, Imran Tahir’s twin googlies gave him a reason to showcase his customary running celebratory gig. Suresh Raina was tempted to drive one straight to Hashim Amla’s hands at cover, and Harbhajan Singh, who replaced S Aravind for this game, was bowled trying to guide the ball to the offside.

Ashwin avoided the hat-trick ball, but the tail lacked the wherewithal to counter the wily Morkel, as India lasted for just 17.2 overs.

South Africa lost Amla in the second over of their chase when he flicked one to Rohit at leg slip. De Villiers was beaten by the lack of turn, as Ashwin became the first bowler to dismiss him thrice in T20Is. The du Plessis’s wicket showed Ashwin’s growing stature as a spinner.

Du Plessis, who had impressed with his proactive bowling changes, stepped out to hit Ashwin for a four and a six in the long-off region in the first two deliveries of the sixth over. Ashwin followed that up with a flatter ball, before giving flight to the fourth delivery. Du Plessis fell for the bait, and Mohit Sharma ran backwards from mid-off to take a wonderful catch.

While India’s poor show is bound to raise many eyebrows with respect to the team’s batting composition, South Africa gave a proof of their hunger to succeed on this 72-day tour.

As for the Cuttack crowd, they are in serious danger of being deprived of more international action in the near future.

Courtesy: Wisden India