India vs South Africa: With series gone, time for Rahul and co to refresh batting template 

In the middle-overs (10-40), India operated at a run rate of 4.9 and 5.3 with the bat, in the first and second ODI, respectively. Whereas, South Africa went at 5.7 and 5.9 run rates.

Published: 22nd January 2022 11:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2022 11:02 PM   |  A+A-

Indian batsman Shikar Dhawan plays a shot while South African wicketkeeper Quinton De Kock looks on during the first ODI match between South Africa and India. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When Rishabh Pant said that South Africa batted well in the middle overs after the seven-wicket defeat in the second ODI, it wasn't an understatement. 

"Last match we chased, but in the second inning, it (pitch) became slower and slower as the game progressed. And, today, it was the same, but they batted well in the middle-overs," the wicketkeeper-batter said on Friday.

In the middle-overs (10-40), India operated at a run rate of 4.9 and 5.3 with the bat, in the first and second ODI, respectively. Whereas, South Africa went at 5.7 and 5.9 run rates, outscoring the tourists in the 30-over period.

If the lull in the middle-overs weren't enough, India let South Africa get away with nine overs of spin  — seven from Aiden Markram — in the first ten overs for just 37 runs. Although the tourists finished their first power play with over 50 runs in both matches, they did not help themselves by not making the most of field restrictions, especially against Markram.

The only time India scored over six runs per over in the first 40 overs was when Pant was at the crease in the second ODI. The partnership between him and KL Rahul, 115 runs from 111 balls, was largely thanks to the former's counterattacking innings. Rahul contributed just 31 runs from 46 balls to that stand, after seeing through the first 12 overs.

India's approach with the bat in the 50-over format is well known — keep wickets till the 35th over and go big in the last 15. Since the 2019 ODI World Cup, India have played 23 ODIs, winning and losing 11 matches (1 no result), with only five centuries from their top three. 

To put things into context, in the year leading up to the 2019 event, their top three had scored 14 hundreds in 27 matches. With the top three not scoring big consistently and other teams taking a proactive approach, it might be time for them revisit that template, with a home World Cup coming in less than two years.

Prior to the series, skipper Rahul had said that the ODIs gives them a chance to experiment a few things and figure out the best combination moving forward. 

With the series lost, if India were to try and change the template for the ODIs before the World Cup, the third and last ODI against South Africa tomorrow wouldn't be a bad place to start.


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