South Africa was low on confidence heading into the game against India in the ICC Cricket World Cup clash in Southampton on Wednesday. They had lost their first two games against England and Bangladesh. They were battling injuries to Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi. Their opponents, India, had been dominant against them in the last couple of seasons and in recent ICC events. From 2012, South Africa have lost five consecutive games in ICC events starting from the World T20 clash in Colombo right until the 2017 Champions Trophy in London. In 2018, South Africa was hammered by 1-5 in the six-match bilateral series at home, their worst loss ever.
The prime reason behind the loss in the ODI series was their inability to tackle the spinners, more specifically the wrist spinners. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had taken 17 and 16 wickets respectively. The South African batsmen were often caught between aggression and defence and both bowlers exploited their weakness brilliantly. The variations, combined with the accuracy, helped India register their biggest win against the Proteas.
Kuldeep and Chahal have been vital to India’s success in ODIs overseas in the last couple of seasons and South Africa faced the full force of the power of the wrist spinning duo. It was Chahal who struck first when Rassie van der Dussen employed an ambitious reverse sweep and missed it to be out for 22. The second wicket of Faf du Plessis exposed the weakness South Africa have had against spin for a long time.
The tendency of South Africa’s batsmen had been to read the ball off the pitch rather than off the hand. Chahal bowled a quicker ball and it skidded through as du Plessis played down the wrong line and was cleaned up. Chahal had maintained the pressure built up by the earlier two strikes of Jasprit Bumrah. Kuldeep joined his partner at the other end and trapped JP Duminy LBW for 3 with quick, straight delivery. David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo tried to string a partnership but Chahal broke the stand when he caught and bowled Miller for 31. Phehlukwayo was stumped for 34 as Chahal ended with 4/50.
A combined spell of 5/96 from 20 overs from Kuldeep and Chahal, dubbed KULCHA was instrumental in breaking the back of the South Africa batting and it needed a solid 42 from Chris Morris to ensure the Proteas had something to bowl to.