South Africa will look to keep the three-match ODI series against India alive as the two cricketing giants square off in the second game at St George’s Park, Gqeberha, on Tuesday, December 19.
Calling the first ODI in Johannesburg a one-sided affair would be a massive understatement. After Aiden Markram won the toss and opted to bat first, Arshdeep Singh pegged back the hosts with consecutive wickets in the second over as Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen departed without scoring.
Tony de Zorzi and Aiden Markram tried to counterattack and resurrect the innings. They put on a 39-run partnership for the third wicket off just 36 balls before Arshdeep got the better of the southpaw. The in-form Heinrich Klaasen also couldn’t last long as he was bowled by Arshdeep. Avesh Khan came in first change and continued from where his fellow speedster had left. The right-arm pacer bagged four quick wickets as South Africa were reeling at 73/8. Andile Phehlukwayo put up a fine rearguard effort to take the home side beyond the 100-run mark.
Arshdeep came back to dismiss Phehlukwayo for a well-compiled 33 before Kuldeep Yadav joined in on the action and dismissed Nandre Burger to end South Africa’s misery.
Chasing a paltry target of 117, India lost Ruturaj Gaikwad early. However, Sai Sudharsan and Shreyas Iyer scored enterprising half-centuries to take India to the brink. After Iyer departed for a 45-ball 52, Tilak Varma joined Sudharsan to take their team to a thumping eight-wicket win inside 17 overs. The Tamil Nadu opener remained unbeaten on 55 off 43 balls on his international debut.
Markram will have his task cut out as it isn’t easy for a captain to inspire his troops after such a heavy defeat. However, the short turnaround might work in South Africa’s favour. 42 matches have been played at St George’s Park. The average first-innings score is 233. It will be interesting to see how the Proteas respond to India’s early strike.