India completed a 5-1 drubbing of a depleted, deplorable South African unit, romping home to their first ODI series win in the country. Having conceded the Test series, India came storming back with a win at Johannesburg and carried forward that momentum into the ODIs, where they outfoxed the hosts with a combination of ruthless batting and relentless bowling. As Virat Kohli and Co bask in glory, we put together the report card for the recently-concluded ODI series.
Virat Kohli (Mat - 6, Runs - 558, Avg - 186.0, 100s - 3)
The outrageous Indian captain was indescribably great in South Africa and hammered a record 558 runs against the hosts, the most by any player in any bilateral series in the history of ODIs, which included three cracking hundreds. He led from the front, covered up for India’s middle-order debacles and proved to be South Africa's nemesis in the series. This series will always be remembered as Kohli’s own “Desert Storm”, placing him in the category of Sachin Tendulkar.
Yuzvendra Chahal (Mat - 6, Wkts - 16, Avg - 16.37, Eco - 5.02) and Kuldeep Yadav (Mat - 6, Wkts - 17, Avg - 13.88, Eco - 4.62)
If Kohli was supreme, Chahal and Kuldeep were mesmerising with their mixed bag of tricks. By the end of the six-match series, it was almost a sin to not mention them in the same breath as both were equally impressive, bamboozling Proteas batsmen with flight, turn, googlies and a slew of other variations.
That a collapse was on when they came onto bowl in five matches out of six shows how good Kuldeep and Chahal were. With wrist-spinners in high demand, India have gone a step ahead and found two of them to break the monotony of the middle overs. Their combined tally of 33 wickets in a bilateral series was the most by spinners in an away series.
Shikhar Dhawan (Mat - 6, Runs - 323, Avg - 64.60, 100s - 1)
Even as Shikhar Dhawan's Test place seems to be under severe scrutiny, he is making truckloads of runs in ODIs across the globe. He continued this trend in South Africa, where he conquered the Proteas seamers with his flamboyance and authoritative shot making.
Faf du Plessis (Mat - 1, Runs - 120, Avg - 120.0, 100s - 1)
That Du Plessis played just one game of the series and still ended up as South Africa's third highest run-scorer tells a story in itself. The South African skipper was the only batsman to show some conviction against the wrist-spinners, and although his hundred came in a losing cause, it was among the few good things that happened for the hosts in the series.
Jasprit Bumrah (Mat - 6, Wkts - 8, Avg - 20.87, Eco - 3.97)
While the wrist-spinners garnered a lot of attention for their ability to scythe through opposition line-ups, Bumrah impressed as well, starting off on a sharp note for India, containing the scoring rate and picking up a wicket or two. Bumrah's varied skills make him one of the first names in the teamsheet and this series further stamped down that belief.
Heinrich Klaasen (Mat - 4, Runs - 110, Avg - 36.66, HS - 43*)
Klaasen will likely be one of the few positive takeaways for South Africa from this series as he showed exemplary grit and determination to help avert a whitewash in a rain-shortened encounter at Wanderers. His temperament and composure in strife stood out, and it is more than likely that he has already sealed his World Cup berth with two good performances.
Shardul Thakur (Mat - 1, Wkts - 4, BBI - 4/52, Avg - 13.0)
The Mumbai seamer came in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the dead rubber at Centurion and immediately made an impact with his pace and channels, ending up with a career best 4/52.
Ajinkya Rahane (Mat - 6, Runs - 140, HS - 79, Avg - 35.00)
With atleast two of the top three making an impact in most games, Rahane had litte to do at No 4 and provided mixed results. His 79 in the opening ODI promised much but that kind of confidence was missing from his batting until the final ODI, where he remained not-out alongside a bullish Kohli.
Khaya Zondo (Mat - 3, Runs - 96, Avg - 32.00, HS - 54)
Zondo's selection was much debated owing to his overall List 'A' record and average returns in the Momentum One Day Cup, but he played to his limitations, handled the spinners impressively in a couple of games and appeared to be one of South Africa's more assured batsmen.
Hardik Pandya (Mat - 6, Runs - 26, Wkts - 4, Bowl Avg - 54.00)
Pandya's numbers in the series are absolutely cringeworthy but the Baroda all-rounder made more impact than what those numbers suggests. He showed that he could stand on his own as a fifth bowler by capturing AB de Villiers twice (both at crucial junctures in the match) and bowled fairly economically throughout the series. His batting wasn't required much in the six matches that India played.
Kagiso Rabada (Mat - 5, Wkts - 5, Avg - 48.40, Eco - 5.56)
Rabada was the only South African seamer to bowl with some rhythm, and his battles with Kohli and Dhawan made for a treat to watch. He deserved better than what he got in terms of wickets in the series.
Aiden Markram (Mat - 6, Runs - 127, HS - 32, Avg - 21.16)
Markram made 127 runs in the six matches yet his highest score stood at 32. It shows that the stand-in skipper had produced several starts but had failed to convert them into substantial scores. The pressure of establishing himself as a player while captaining the side showed on Markram, and it is too early to really judge him given the burden he shouldered. For what it's worth, while he lasted, he batted beautifully.
Rohit Sharma (Mat - 6, Runs - 170, HS - 115, Avg - 28.33)
Rohit's South African woes came to a halt at Port Elizabeth when he stood tall and slammed the Proteas bowlers to all corners of the ground. However, he otherwise had a rather ordinary series by his standards.
Lungi Ngidi (Mat - 4, Wkts - 8, Avg - 25.50, Eco - 6.18)
Ngidi was South Africa's most successful bowler in the series but his lack of a length channel and width let India off the hook multiple times. His poor economy stands as evidence of his inability to contain the scoring rate. The hosts will hope that he learns quickly on the job.
MS Dhoni (Mat - 6, Runs - 69, HS - 42*, Avg - 34.50)
Dhoni had little role to play with the bat and made a run-a-ball 42 on the only occasion that he got to bat for long. The number of balls he consumed in the process further raised questions on his current ability to up the ante in the death, something he used to do effortlessly a few years back.
David Miller (Mat - 5, Runs - 107, HS - 39, Avg - 21.4)
As the assigned finisher, Miller failed to do almost everything asked of him, although two reprieves saw him finally pull himself together in the company of Klaasen at Wanderers and help South Africa to their lone victory in the series. Miller will need to pull his socks up, particularly with Klaasen putting on an impressive show.
Chris Morris (Mat - 5, Runs - 69, Wkts - 2, Eco - 5.97)
Morris bowled impressive spells in short bursts but gifted far too many runs on other occasions to frustrate South Africa. The facade of him being an X-factor player is quickly vanishing and Ottis Gibson would want to try alternatives in Morris’ stead.
Andile Phehlukwayo (Mat - 5, Wkts - 3, HS - 34, Bowl Avg - 61.00)
While his immense temperament and composure while batting stands out, Phehlukwayo needs to get better at his primary skill - bowling - to remain a part of the South African side. His listless bowling performance barely tested any batsman and it would be interesting to see how South Africa use him in the forthcoming months.
Hashim Amla (Mat - 6, Runs - 154, HS - 71, Avg - 25.66)
Amla rarely got to test himself against the spinners as he struggled against India's pace bowlers and was mostly dismissed before the spin duo came on. The aura around him is quickly fading and South Africa need to be pretty worried.
Tabraiz Shamsi (Mat - 2, Wkts - 0, Eco - 5.07)
Shamsi got few opportunities to stake claims to a place in the side, and although he returned wicketless in two games, he showed good control and variations for South Africa to persist with him as back-up spin option.
Shreyas Iyer (Mat - 3, Runs - 48, Avg - 24.00)
It would be unfair to state that Iyer performed poorly mainly because he was made to bat out of position and got few opportunities. However, his poor intensity in the field and dropped catches stood out, which gives him a poor rating in the report card.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Mat - 5, Wkts - 2, Avg - 100.50, Eco - 6.09)
That Bhuvneshwar averaged over 100, picked up less wickets and went at an economy of greater than six shows the kind of series he had. He could play a key role in England in the World Cup, though, and India would want him to do a thorough self-introspection.
JP Duminy (Mat - 5, Runs - 99, Wkts - 2, Avg - 19.80)
Duminy appears more vulnerable with every passing series and it would be a miracle if South Africa decide to take him to the World Cup if he continues to perform similarly in the next few months. While he did knock up a half-century and bowled a lot, Duminy never really oozed any kind of confidence, and it is unlikely that the selectors would persist with him.
AB de Villiers (Mat - 3, Runs - 62, Avg - 20.66)
Mr 360° had one of the worst ODI series of his career. His hurried demeanor at the crease, and wayward shots that led to his dismissals, stick out like a sore thumb. De Villiers is crucial to South Africa's chances in ODIs and it didn't help the hosts that he had a quiet series.
Quinton de Kock (Mat - 2, Runs - 54, Avg - 27.00)
De Kock needed a break and a blessing in the form of injury saved him from further embarrassments in the series. The Proteas will hope that he returns with his care-free, fearless and dominating approach at the crease.
Morne Morkel (Mat - 5, Wkts - 2, Avg - 103)
South Africa's senior-most bowler had a horror series and his inability to contain the run flow further hurt South Africa. Morkel needs to condition himself on how to bowl when the opposition batsmen are taking him on.
Imran Tahir (Mat - 4, Wkts - 1, Avg - 175.00)
The No 1 ODI bowler went at an economy close to six, averaged 175 and picked up a single wicket in the four matches he played. Tahir was a "leather belt" for Indian batsmen is an apt summary of his performance in the series.
Farhaan Behardien and Kedar Jadhav weren't rated because they had very little role to play in the series.