NEW DELHI: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that the return of the talismanic AB de Villiers had a direct impact on the side which won the rain-hit fourth ODI against India on Saturday to avoid a series defeat, but that India should worry too much about the loss.
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On account of a finger injury, de Villiers missed the first three ODIs – all of which India won – but returned for the must-win fourth game in Johannesburg. He only scored 26 off 18 balls, but the manner in which the hosts chased down a Duckworth-Lewis target of 202 in 25.3 overs left Ganguly in no doubt that de Villiers’ return was a huge psychological boost.
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“The return of AB de Villiers was also a positive psychological advantage for the Proteas. He may not have got many runs on the board on his immediate return but it was a huge plus to their middle order. The South Africans also probably did the right thing by leaving the spinner out and playing an all-pace attack,” wrote Ganguly, who played 311 ODIs and 113 Tests, in his column for TOI. “South Africa managed to pull one back to continue their 100 per cent record in pink clothing. There will always be that question whether Saturday’s curtailed game made life easier for them. Well, it just might have.
“More than the number of overs, however, it is the rain that probably made it difficult for the Indians, especially the spinners, to bowl. Not that the spinners have turned the ball enormously in the previous three games of the series. Rather, it was a question of very poor batting by the South African batsmen which resulted in 21 wickets for the spinners. On Saturday, the moisture in the surface due to the rain actually allowed the ball to skid on to the bat and that helped the South African batsmen,” wrote Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa.
According to Ganguly, Virat Kohli’s team should not be too concerned about the defeat on Saturday because they sit on top at 3-1 with two matches to spare. The fifth ODI is today in Port Elizabeth, where rain is again in forecast.
“Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli have continued their dominance with the bat and are really playing very well. The good thing when they bat is that the run-rate remains healthy. If either of them – more so Kohli – are dismissed early, then the others will have to take the innings forward. This didn’t happen in the last 15 overs at the Wanderers,” he wrote.
“The Indian spinners may have had an off day but the shot selections of Miller, Klaasen, Markram and Phehlukwayo will keep them interested for the remainder of the series. Port Elizabeth is not known for being a high scoring ground, and it will be a very important game for South Africa.”
Source : timesofindia