India’s wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal continued their domination in the ongoing ODI series against South Africa on Sunday (February 4). After scalping 5 for 79 while bowling in tandem during the ODI series opener in Durban, the duo claimed 8 wickets by giving away just 42 runs in the second ODI at SuperSport Park, Centurion.
The Men in Blue have registered thumping victories in the first two ODIs of the six-match series. While Kuldeep’s 3 for 34 had laid the foundation for India’s 6-wicket win in Durban, Chahal’s maiden five-wicket haul (5 for 22) resulted in a resounding 9-wicket triumph for the visitors in Centurion.
Considering the way both the wrist spinners have improved their game in the alien Proteas conditions, India skipper Virat Kohli has hailed the duo as “blowers for any surface”.
"The pitch was harder than Durban and the spinners used it. We knew we won't get grass on the pitch because when it's seaming, it can be anyone's game. We knew the wickets would be hard and dry and knew our wrist spinners can get it to turn anywhere. They just didn't give South Africa any chance," said Kohli at the post-match presentation in Centurion.
Talking about the performance of his troops in the first two ODIs, Kohli said it’s a wonderful position to be in.
"We back guys to play positive cricket. It's (2-0) a wonderful position to be in. We know their middle-order was inexperienced, and we wanted to cash in on that," he added.
When asked about his decision to bat first, the Indian captain said: "If we set up to chase down totals, we know exactly what we want to do. Rohit and Shikhar's intent at the top is crucial. They started off well in the last game too.”
Chahal was rightfully adjudged Man of the Match for his career-best bowling figures. Speaking at the post-match presentation, the 27-year-old leggie admitted that bowling at the small Chinnaswamy Stadium while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL has helped him to prepare for the limited-overs challenge.
“Since I play in Bangalore, which is a small ground and is flat like these grounds, I have to play to my strength and not think about what the batsman is going to do. If I think about the batsman, then obviously I’ll struggle. My strength is to go for wickets by giving flight and bowl slow. I don’t bowl fast as on these kind of wickets you can go for runs by bowling quicker, especially against the big-hitters in the opposition camp,” quoted Chahal.
“We (him and Kuldeep) are in the team to take wickets in the middle overs. We don’t mind going for 60-65 runs in 10 overs so long as we get the wickets. Because if you take wickets, only then will the opposition come under pressure,” he added.
Stand-in captain Proteas captain Aiden Markram asserted that the batsmen didn’t step up to the plate.
"Not the best performance today. It's a day about which we have to be really honest with ourselves. There were too many soft dismissals starting from myself,” Markram said.
"It was always going to be difficult to defend (118) but look, the day is over. We can't afford slip-ups now. It might bring out the best in us," he concluded.
The third ODI between India and South Africa will be played at Newlands, Cape Town on February 7.