Chahar’s enterprise not enough to salvage consolation win

A South Africa tour that had begun with expectations of dominance – heightened by the Centurion Test win – ended with a fifth successive defeat for India, a four-run loss in Cape Town bringing a 0-3 ODI series wipeout. It was the closest India had come to winning a game after Centurion, albeit an inconsequential one with the series already lost. But just when the match seemed to have settled decisively in their grasp, following a familiar middle-order stumble and a stunning revival, they fell apart at the final hurdle.

In his previous ODI, Deepak Chahar had walked in at 160/6 in a chase of 276 against Sri Lanka in Colombo last July. It became 193/7, but Chahar took India to a series-sealing victory with an unbeaten 69, playing some outrageous strokes along the way.

Six months later, Chahar appeared to have stolen another ODI chase from a home side’s grasp; his 54 off 34 deliveries had resuscitated India from 223/7 in their pursuit of 288 at Newlands. In his only match of the tour, Chahar had come in at 195/5 after Shreyas Iyer’s exit to a short ball for 17.

Chahar pulled a Lungi Ngidi short ball for four and hit Dwaine Pretorius for successive sixes – a swipe high over deep midwicket and a sliced drive past sweeper cover. His blows, aided by Jasprit Bumrah’s spunk, had shocked the South Africans, and the once-steep equation had been hacked down to a mere 10 off 18.

Indian batsman Deepak Chahar plays a shot during the third ODI match between South Africa and India at Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

And then Chahar played one shot too many on a surface where taking the pace off had increasingly made uninhibited strokeplay fraught with risk. He was caught by a sliding Pretorius at cover off Ngidi, and India managed to add only five runs after his dismissal. Four balls were still left in the game when Yuzvendra Chahal top-edged Pretorius for David Miller to take a sitter and leave Chahar close to tears on a chair near the boundary with his pads still on.

He had tried his best to change the script but India eventually stuck to the narrative of the first ODI in Paarl. They were 138/1 there chasing 297. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli had added 92, but after the former’s departure, they unravelled to 214/8 and a 31-run loss.

In Cape Town, India were 116/1. Dhawan and Kohli had put on 98. Dhawan fell, and the middle order caved in again. There was an enterprising 39 off 32 from Suryakumar Yadav, who had replaced Venkatesh Iyer, but like Chahar, he played too many forcing shots on a difficult pitch, and paid the price.

In contrast, Quinton de Kock had hung around long enough to make 124 to propel South Africa to 287, which proved to be just enough to consign Rahul Dravid’s first tour as full-time India coach to an utter disaster.

Brief scores: South Africa 287 in 49.5 overs (de Kock 124, van der Dussen 52; Krishna 3/59) beat India 283 in 49.2 overs (Kohli 65, Dhawan 61, Chahar 54; Phehlukwayo 3/40, Ngi 3/58) by four runs


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