Debjit Mukherjee: A new-look India, led by Shikhar Dhawan, suffered a nine-run defeat at the hands of South Africa in the first ODI at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow on Thursday, October 6.
With the win, South Africa earned the crucial Super League points, which they desperately need to qualify for next year’s World Cup in India.
India had a horrendous start while chasing the 250-run target. Shubman Gill and Shikhar Dhawan, who resumed their opening partnership from tour of Zimbabwe, failed to make a mark in the opening ODI against South Africa. South Africa struck twice inside first six overs to remove Gill (3) and captain Dhawan (4).
The new-look India’s batting woes continued as Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan didn’t last long, leaving the hosts at 51/4 after 17.4 overs. Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi got rid of Gaikwad (19), while left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj dismissed Kishan (20).
Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson tried to rebuild India’s innings and took the side past the 100-run mark. But soon after completing his fifty, Iyer departed on a short ball by Lungi Ngidi. Samson and incoming Shardul Thakur kept India’s hopes alive as they took the match deep.
But with the asking run rate creeping, Thakur perished (33) and Samson’s (86 not out off 63) effort went in vain in the end.
Earlier, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen’s unbeaten knocks lifted South Africa to 249/4 after rain delayed the start of the match. South Africa got off to a slow start, with Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock struggling in the middle.
Shardul Thakur ended Malan’s (22 off 42 struggle as the opener was caught at midwicket by Shreyas Iyer. Captain Temba Bavuma’s (8) poor run with the bat continued as Thakur picked his second. Kuldeep Yadav added to South Africa’s miseries as he cleaned up Aiden Markram for a five-ball duck.
Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen held their ends and batted cautiously while rebuilding the visitors’ innings. Ravi Bishnoi, who made his ODI debut, denied De Kock his 30th ODI half-century as he trapped the left-hander for 48. Klaasen found the much-needed support in Miller as the two batted deep to give their bowlers something to defend. The South African duo hammered India bowlers towards the end to set up a 250-run target for India.