South Africa fell flat in the second innings in pursuit of 395 against India in the ongoing first Test match against India in Vizag.
The Indians declared at 323/4 in the second innings after scoring at a brisk rate on Day 4 with Rohit Sharma amassing 127.
The Proteas faltered badly to surrender the match. India have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series.
The visitors, who scored 434 in the first innings, missed the plot in order to save the Test match.
When you look back at how their innings shaped up earlier, besides the solidity of Dean Elgar’s 160-run knock, wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock came in and offered a grand counter-attack to stun the Indians.
However, De Kock fell for a duck in the second innings and like everyone else couldn’t stand up.
But there is the other side of his story.
He is South Africa’s principal batsman, who knows how to get things done and fight back.
De Kock has been a revelation so far since he has landed in India for the T20Is and now in the Test series.
He is their in-form batsman and the urge to take responsibility makes him a sorted personality in the Proteas ranks.
He shouldn’t be taken lightly and India will be aware of his offerings.
De Kock was the man that saved his side the blushes in the T20Is.
South Africa drew the three-match series at 1-1. It was De Kock, who scored the fifties in both matches.
It was his unbeaten knock in Bengaluru that helped SA win the match and share the spoils.
In the first innings of the Vizag Test, SA needed a steady hand to help Elgar, who was well set.
After Faf du Plessis’ dismissal, the need of the hour was sensibility.
De Kock came in and provided much more.
It was a grand innings and one that needs to be lauded.
In a Test where Rohit’s twin tons and Mayank Agarwal’s 215 will be talked about, De Kock’s stunning show should not be forgotten about.
However, one expected him to at least come out and apply the calmness on Day 5 in order to salvage the match from a difficult situation. But this wasn’t his day.
In the near future, when you talk about leaders in batting, one strongly feels the southpaw deserves the credibility to be a mainstay in this Proteas line-up.
De Kock did all the right things in the first innings
De Kock came in at 178/5 and that’s when India could have actually put on the brakes.
But it was De Kock who shut the shop down.
He didn’t allow the Indian spinners to settle down.
From the moment he stepped on to the field, he looked to be aggressive and take on the Indian spin duo with optimum stroke-play.
So it did two positive things,
1) His run-flow and freedom allowed someone like an Elgar to consolidate,
2) He mastered the off-side well and his shot selection forced the Indian bowlers to alter their lengths.
Everything came out of the middle of the bat.
The left-handed batsman reached his century with a six – a sumptuous ‘inside out’ drive over extra cover against Ravichandran Ashwin.
What he also managed to do was play positively and pick out the gaps.
He smashed 16 fours and two sixes.
The 164-run stand with Elgar was crucial for the visitors and these two dictated the show at ease.
“Quinny was absolutely brilliant – he’s a bit of a genius with the bat, to be honest. I’ve known him a long time as a cricketer and a person and he has so much to contribute to the team,” said Elgar on Day 3.
Confidence could serve De Kock well despite 2nd innings failure
The T20Is served as the perfect platform for De Kock who thrived on confidence.
He knows the Indian conditions well and used all his Indian Premier League (IPL) experience to dictate the show.
To carry that form into red-ball cricket is something extraordinary.
He handled the two spheres well.
De Kock is in a good head space at the moment and the willingness to be consistent is helping him.
There is an urge to put a price on his wicket.
He is a real talent for SA and the side can get the best out of him. However, on a Day 5 pitch in India, batting is the most difficult thing to do and De Kock was trumped by an inswinger by Shami that was coupled with lack of bounce. He couldn’t do anything much.
However, going forward, De Kock will hope the pitch is kinder to him.
When you have Ashwin and Jadeja coming in at you and fielders surrounding all around you, the oddball can always create the platform to spring a surprise.
When a batsman is only defending, it sometimes gets the better off him and gives the onus to the bowler instead.
It will be difficult for De Kock but since he is a natural progressive player, he can get those much-needed runs. He can run well, get those ones and twos, besides accelerating when required. So the perfect one to counter Ashwin and Jadeja is De Kock.
This could be De Kock’s defining series
To score three successive 50-plus scores across formats away from home is a solid achievement.
Focusing on the Tests, De Kock can actually be the real problem for India going forward.
He has much to contribute for the side and we are seeing what a player he is and what’s he capable of.
He had a decent IPL 2019 campaign for Mumbai Indians.
So the runs have come on Indian soil. And now the work begins once again.
There’s less time and with two more Tests left, De Kock could be the perfect substitute to offer that cushion for SA against the number one side in the world.
When you talk of having the series of your career, something that comes in difficult situations, De Kock may be braced for his bragging rights now.