It was the 20th over of the innings. The scoreboard read 70/4 and India were a couple of miles away from levelling the series. And just then, the skies did what they were threatening to do all day long. Within seconds, umbrellas of all shapes, sizes and colours came out in the two grass embankments at Kingsmead.
South Africa have had their fair share of Duckworth-Lewis mess-ups over the years and they were desperate to be on the right side of the equation on Sunday. No wonder Vernon Philander chose to bowl with a Virat Kohli-like run-up. He wanted to get over with those six deliveries lest the drizzle turned into a downpour.
MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina tried their best to slow things down. The former’s dismissal, on the fifth ball, delighted neither the hosts nor the festive Sunday crowd. Ravindra Jadeja hopped his way to the middle. Dot ball; huge roar. That was it. The contest was as good as over. Rain or no rain, South Africa were assured of a deserving series victory. There was no way India would score 207 off the remaining 29 overs.
Skipper Dhoni made wholesale changes to his side, the pitch and conditions were nothing like they were in Johannesburg and India won the toss yet again. But none of that mattered to South Africa. Their openers set the foundation with a 194-run stand. In fact, both Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla went on to get hundreds. Mohammed Shami did pull things back as South Africa suffered a mini-collapse of sorts –– 233/2 to 255/6 –– in the space of four overs, but a 20-run over from Umesh Yadav took them to 280/6 in the 49-overs-a-side game.
India’s response was far more wretched than it was on Thursday. At least, they had Dale Steyn and his magic to blame in the first ODI. On Sunday, the visitors could only hold themselves responsible. The wicket was not venomously quick and the damp outfield made boundary-hitting incredibly difficult. First, they conceded a lot of runs. And, then, their batting line-up crumbled like a dilapidated structure. Eventually, they folded up for 146 in just 35.1 overs, giving the hosts a 134-run victory and the series 2-0. The ‘dead rubber’ third ODI will be played in Centurion on Wednesday.
Ajinkya Rahane replaced Yuvraj Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar made way for Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav’s inclusion meant Mohit Sharma sat on the bench, but it was the same story all over again. India have a lot of soul-searching to do.
This seems like another horrific overseas tour in the making.