Talking points from India-South Africa ODIs

New Delhi – Talking points from the five-match one-day series between India and South Africa, which the tourists clinched 3-2 late on Sunday:

The South Africa team poses with the trophy after winning the fifth ODI against India at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on October 25, 2015 © AFP Punit Paranjpe
The South Africa team poses with the trophy after winning the fifth ODI against India at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on October 25, 2015 © AFP Punit Paranjpe

Chokers? Not South Africa for sure

— South Africa’s 3-2 ODI win which followed the 2-0 rout in the Twenty20 series proved once again that the Proteas are among the best travellers in the sport when it comes to bilateral matches. Touring India is even easier for them since many in the side play in the Indian Premier League. South Africa’s oft-cited “choker” tag is history. In fact, the boot’s on the other foot now. It’s India who came up short… even at home.

More than just AB and Steyn

— Banish the thought that South Africa are over-reliant on AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn. De Villiers showed his destructive prowess with two scintillating centuries in the series, but even wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock hit two hundreds. And he is not even part of the Test series to follow, where Dane Vilas will keep wicket. Steyn topped the bowling charts with 10 wickets in the series, but impressive young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada also picked up 10 and looked far more dangerous that his senior partner.

Win toss, bat first, win match

— All five matches were won by teams who elected to bat after winning the toss. Batsmen struggled to dominate when pitches slowed down in the second session under lights. Batting first also helps to tire out the fielding side under the hot sun. First use of the freshly rolled out pitches were a batsman’s dream… and a bowler’s nightmare across the entire series.

What next for Dhoni?

— Has Mahendra Singh Dhoni played his last one-day match? There are no ODIs scheduled for India till the World Twenty20 in March, when the limited-overs captain is expected to make a decision on his career. Dhoni, who has already retired from Test cricket, was India’s go-to man after leading them to title triumphs in the 50-over World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy, but the 34-year-old suddenly finds himself under pressure. Defeats in both the T20 and ODI series against the Proteas have raised speculation over whether Dhoni will lead hosts India at the World T20.

Where are the bowlers?

— While Steyn and Rabada bamboozled batsmen, India’s bowlers once again showed that they are easy meat for any batting side unless pitches provide some assistance by way of turn or bounce. With spin kingpin Ravichandran Ashwin out of the series after getting injured in the first match, other bowlers struggled to contain the flow of runs. Seamer Mohammad Shami, who impressed during the World Cup, is still sidelined with injury. Little wonder that Dhoni has pleaded for turning wickets during the Test series, even though he himself has retired from the longer format.

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