India batsmen let their bowlers down in Cape Town. Can Virat Kohli and Co. bounce back?

first_imgIndia’s famed batting line-up imploded as South Africa clinched the first Test by 72 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series at Newlands, Cape Town on Monday.Chasing 208 to register their first ever Test victory at Newlands, India crumbled for 135 in only 42.4 overs on the fourth day of the series opener.On a lively wicket, Vernon Philander was the chief destroyer recording figures of 6/42 for his first five-wicket haul in Tests since 2013.India had looked to seize control of the Test when they bowled South Africa out for 130 in the morning session. But found the home team attack on the seamer-friendly wicket too much of a challenge.After the third day was washed out, 18 wickets fell in 64 overs on Monday — all these wickets were pocketed by the seamers.KOHLI’S FAILURE WITH THE BATVirat Kohli had led from the front in what was a sensational journey for India at home over the last two years. It was therefore expected, the captain would once again lead the way in unfamiliar conditions but that was not to be – at least in the first Test. There was enough intent from the bowlers and from Hardik Pandya in the first innings but the second innings collapse should upset the captain, who thrives on excellence.While he would have been a prouder captain with the way his faster bowlers bowled in the match, his batsmen let him and the team down as India surrendered meekly.Kohli, who has smashed close to 5500 runs in international cricket in the last 24 months or so, came into the series on the back of consecutive Test double hundreds against Sri Lanka. He also recently became the first Test captain to smash six double centuries.advertisementReuters PhotoKohli was expected to replicate that form as India reached South Africa in hope of winning their first-ever series in the rainbow nation.However, Kohli failed in both the innings scoring 5 and 28 respectively.In the first innings, Kohli played at a rising delivery outside off-stump and was caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off speedster Morne Morkel.While in the second innings, the Indian captain looked in a better control but was trapped plumb in front for 28 by man-of-th-match Philander.ROHIT OVER RAHANE?An in-form Rohit Sharma was preferred over the tried, tested and successful Ajinkya Rahane, who has proven himself time and again in testing overseas condition.Many believe it was a gutsy call by coach Ravi Shastri and Kohli but the reality is that Rohit failed to deliver on the big stage.Rohit showed good temperament during the first innings and saw off the first hour of the second day’s play but was trapped plumb in front of his wickets for a painstaking 11 from 59 balls.In the second innings, India were chasing a tricky target for a victory on a pitch which assisted the pacers. After losing top three wickets early in their chase, captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma fought back with a 30-run stand.Kohli was undone playing across a straight delivery from Philander and with his wicket possibly went India’s hopes. Rohit (10) soon followed suit when he dragged one onto his stumps off Philander, who finished with career-best 6/42.AP Photo130 RUNS BY THE TOP 5. NOT GOOD ENOUGHIndia’s top five combined for 130 runs in the match as compared to South Africa’s 234 by their top-five batsmen, courtesy two half-centuries in the first innings.India’s top order was among runs prior to the series but those runs were scored in India and conditions similar to sub-continental pitches in the West Indies and Sri Lanka.India’s top five will have to pull their socks up in the remaining two matches and reignite the spark to have a shot at at least drawing the series if not winning.While Kohli has defended Rohit’s inclusion ahead of Rahane in the playing XI for the first match, the skipper and the team management would have given Rahane another chance before dropping him given his overseas record.Rahane averages 53.44 in overseason conditions, including Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh while his average in South Africa rises to 69.66 from four innings.Decision to drop Rahane was bold but it backfired. Kohli, who has never fielded the same XI in consecutive Tests, may bring back the Mumbai batsman for the second Test as India seek fresh start at Centurion.THE POSITIVESAs expected India pacers lived up to their billing in dismissing South Africa for 286 and 130.It all started on the first hour of the first day when Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a devastating spell of pace bowling and picked a wicket in each of his first three overs to tear apart the South African batting line-up.advertisementBhuvneshwar finished with 4/87 from his 19 overs to help India bundle South Africa out for 286. Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two wickets while Mohammed Shami, debutant Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya chipped in with one wicket apiece.India’s seamers, led by Mohammed Shami (3/28) exploited the lively Newlands wicket to tear through South Africa’s brittle batting line-up and bowled the hosts out for 130.Bumrah, who was picked ahead of veterans Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, was a nervous starter but he seems to have found his rhythm as he joined forces with Shami to dismiss the hosts for a low total.AP PhotoPANDYA HEROICSHardik Pandya starred with both bat and ball on the second day of the match on Saturday.After scoring a counter-attacking 93 off 95, Pandya got rid of the South African openers as the hosts reached 65/2 at the close of play to take a substantial lead of 142 runs.Earlier, Pandya defied the odds to smash runs all over the park on a pitch where top Indian batsmen struggled to score runs. Pandya struck a 93 off just 95 balls on the second day an innings studded with 14 fours and a six. His valiant effort helped India score 209 in reply to South Africa’s 286, who took a crucial 77-run first innings lead.Pandya came out all guns blazing and played his own game attacking the South Africa pace battery, which had ripped apart the Indian batting line-up and left the visitors reeling at 76/5.BCCI PhotoBut he took charge of the Indian innings to give the visitors some respectability, adding 99 runs with Bhuvneshwar for the eighth wicket.CAN INDIA BOUNCE BACK IN THE HIGHVELDS?India blew their chance in Cape Town and the challenge is going to be only stiffer up in Centurion for the second Test and Johannesburg for the third Test. South Africa won’t have Dale Steyn in their ranks but they have enough firepower to go with Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. In fact, they might even contemplate adding an extra batsman to the line-up after the way India’s pacers bowled this week.There is not much time left to learn, recover and stay alive in the series. However, given the potential of their top-order and the experience in the ranks, fans would hope some sort of fightback this weekend. Do not yet count out Kohli, Pujara, Vijay and Dhawan. There is still plenty left in the series.last_img read more

3rd ODI: Indian women eye clean sweep against England

first_imgA confident India, having already bagged the 3-match series, will look to complete a whitewash when they take on a beleaguered England in the third and final women’s one-day International in Mumbai on Thursday.The Mithali Raj-led outfit had thrashed the reigning World Champions by 66 runs in the opening ODI and then followed it up with a dominating seven-wicket win in the second game to seal the three-match series with a 2-0 unassailable lead.More importantly, India grabbed four crucial points in the ICC Women’s championship as the race for securing direct qualification spots for the 2021 World Cup heats up.With two more points up for grabs, the hosts would not like to experiment by making any changes to the line-up.India seem to have found the winning momentum under new coach W V Raman as they ticked most boxes in the last two games.Prolific opener Smriti Mandhana, who is the current ICC cricketer of the year, has been in splendid form. Her classy 63 in the last game helped the hosts to clinch the match and the series.Veteran Mithali Raj, who is the leading run-getter in ODIs, has scores of 44 and 47 in the last two games. Both Mandhana and her skipper would like to continue from where they left.Experienced Punam Raut, who made a comeback to the ODI side, justified her selection over Harleen Deol, by chipping in with a handy 32.Raut’s inclusion seems to have sorted out the middle-order woes. But she and young opener Jemimah Rodrigues, both from Mumbai, need to convert their starts into bigger scores.advertisementThe likes of Deepti Sharma, Mona Meshram and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia also need to chip in if the top-order falters.The Indian bowlers – both seamers and spinners — have been impressive. Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami (with 5 wickets in the rubber) and Shikha Pandey (6 wickets) have troubled the visitors in the first two games at the Wankhede stadium here.England have found it difficult to face the Indian spin trio of Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Ekta Bisht.Slow left-arm orthodox bowler Bisht spun the visitors to their doom with a four-wicket haul in game one.The struggling England side also suffered a blow after all-rounder Sophie Ecclestone was ruled out of the third ODI and remainder of the tour due to a fractured hand.The visitors will play for pride and aim to bag the two crucial points as part of the ICC Championship before heading to the three-match T20I series in Guwahati next month.Apart from all-rounder Natalie Sciver and skipper Heather Knight, the other batters have largely performed below par.On the bowling front, the visiting team’s pacers Anya Shrubsole, Georgia Elwiss and Kathrine Brunt have the wherewithal to trouble the hosts.The hosts, on their current form, once again start as front runners but England could spring a surprise and prevent a clean sweep by India.Teams (from): India Women: Mithali Raj (C), Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (WK), R Kalpana (WK), Mona Meshram, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Punam Raut, Harleen Deol.England Women: Heather Knight (C), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Alex Hartley, Amy Jones, Laura Marsh, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor (WK), Lauren Winfield and Danni Wyatt.Match starts at 9 AMAlso Read | BCCI will decide India-Pakistan fate, says Jhulan Goswamilast_img read more