India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant admitted South Africa batted well in the middle overs and that really made the difference as the visitors lost the second ODI by seven wickets on Friday and the series as well. India had also lost the Test series 2-1 earlier. (More Cricket News)
Having lost the first game by 31 runs, India needed to win the second ODI and put 287/6 in 50 overs after KL Rahul won the toss. In reply, South Africa rode on Janneman Malan’s 91 and Quinton de Kock’s 78 to win the game in 48.1 overs with seven wickets in hand.
“The track was slightly on the slower side and at the same time, we had enough runs on the board. Last match (first ODI), we chased and this match we batted first, so when they batted, the wicket was much better for batting,” Pant, who scored 85, said after the match.
“In second innings, it became slower and slower as the game progressed. Today, it was the same but they batted well in middle overs that's why they chased down the target. We didn't get enough wickets in the middle overs,” he said.
After the openers gave South Africa a great start, the middle-order consisting of skipper Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen contributed with useful knocks to see the team over the line. In the process, Rahul also became the fifth Indian to lose the first two matches as captain. The others in the list are Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Krish Srikkanth and Mohammad Azharuddin.
Pant admitted that Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram and Tabraiz Shamsi bowled better than Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal in the two games.
“I think they (SA spinners) were more consistent in their lines and lengths and they are used to playing in these conditions,” he said. One of the biggest reasons for the defeat is the lack of 50-over game time for a long duration, opined Pant.
“We are playing ODIs after a long time and lots of factors we can talk about but as a team, we are always looking to improve and hopefully, we will be able to rectify them in coming matches,” he said. The third and final ODI of the series is on Sunday at Newlands, Cape Town.