South Africa, who had lost their previous two bilateral series against the Indian team, in an extraordinary performance has clinched the 5 match ODI series, 4-1. It is India’s first-ever ODI series defeat in 3 years. Their last series came against Australia in 2018 when they were whitewashed 3-0.

South Africa missed the service of Dane van Neikerk and hard-hitting all-rounder Chloe Tyron, while Sune Luss and Trisha Chetty missed the matches after the 2nd ODI. Despite the vulnerabilities, in the middle order, South Africa chased down two 200+ total, in the 3rd and 4th match. The fact that they won all the matches, chasing, prove how deep their batting has been.

Without discrediting the innings like Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Lara Goodall or even Mignon Du Preez one can point out that the show, Indian bowlers provided series after series, was missing in this series.

Poonam Yadav has been the go-to bowlers in One Day matches as well as T20 matches for India, for quite some times. After the 2017 World Cup, Poonam Yadav, till this series has taken 39 wickets with an average of 21 in 24 innings. In those 24 innings, Poonam Yadav took 2 or more wicket 14 times. and Out of those 14 times, India won the match 12 times.

The importance of Poonam Yadav’s bowling can be turn out to be more visible when we will see that in the aforementioned time India won 15 matches. That means if Poonam Yadav takes 2 or more wickets in an ODI innings India’s winning percentage is 80.

At times Poonam has to turn out to be the deadliest weapon for the India skipper. Her accuracy, flight and control over the bowlers at the one hand choked the batters, which in return created the opportunity to take wickets.

Poonam Yadav Took More Than 2 wickets in an Innings (24.7.2017-6.3.2021)

Poonam Yadav India Won
Defending a Total
India Lost
Defending a Total
India Won
Chasing a Total
India Lost
Chasing a Total
3 1 9 1
Wicket 8 2 21 2
Average 9.00 20.50 14.66 26
Strike Rate 20.1 29.5 23.7 30
Economy 2.68 4.16 3.71 5.2

Spinners have always played a remarkable role in India victory. Even in the prior two series against South Africa, Poonam Yadav had taken 11 wickets at an average of 16. And India won 5 out of 6 games. On the contrary, Poonam Yadav has been wicketless in this series. Her figure of 0/151 in 35 overs in 4 games has hurt India the most in the middle overs.

Deepti Sharma too turned out to be ineffective in this series. She claimed only one wicket conceding 127 runs in 4 innings. It was not at all Deeptisque. India did not include veteran left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht in this series. Another spinner Rajeswari Gayakwad didn’t also live up to the expectation, but she showed her class in the last where her figure 10-4-13-3 proved her worth in the side.

Like seamers, spinners hunt in the pair too. Though there were patches of the good spell from the spinner, as that didn’t get the desired support from another end, the Indian side failed to sustain the pressure.

Team India

Team India. ©BCCI

The collective failure of Indian spinners who have picked up 13 wickets conceding 691 runs at an average of 54, broke the backbone of the Indian attack. They took more than 70 balls to pick one wicket. India’s inability to pick wickets in the middle overs has given the comparatively less experienced South African middle-order time to settle down, before the final assault.

In all the four matches where India defended the total, in the middle overs (20-40), they took 2 wickets in average (8 wickets in 4 matches). South African side, with wickets in hand, chased down the run, even though the asking run rate was 6or 6.5 in the last 10  overs. But in the match which India won, batting first, South Africa lost 6 wickets for 76 runs in those 20 overs.

Prior to this series, India lost 6 out of 12 matches while defending but in this series, India lost all four matches while defending.

India Spinners While Defending

After the World Cup to Prior to The Series In this series
Wicket 46 9
Average 29.36 67.11
Economy 4.06 4.67
Strike Rate 43.3 86.2

It would be noteworthy that after the 2017 World Cup India has lost only two ODI series out of 9. And in those two series, Indian spinners average took a wicket with an average of more than 50 and the strike rate rose up to more than 60.

India Spinners in Series After World Cup 2017

Match Wicket Average Economy Strike Rate Result
vs RSA 2018 (Away) 3 13 23.00 3.84 35.9  Won  (2-1)
vs AUS 2018 (Home) 3 9 58.22 5.87 59.4  Lost (3-0)
vs ENG 2018( Home) 3 17 21.17 3.89 32.6 Won  (2-1)
vs SRI 2018 (Away) 3 11 34.09 4.31 47.4  Won  (2-1)
vs NZ 2019 (Away) 3 15 22.13 4.29 30.9 Won (2-1)
vs ENG 2019 (Home) 3 11 28.90 3.98 43.5 Won  (2-1)
vs RSA 2019 (Home) 3 18 19.05 3.53 32.3  Won (3-0)
vs WI 2019 ( Away) 3 14 24.85 3.55 42.0 Won (2-1)
vs RSA 2021 (Home) 5 13 53.15 4.50 70.7  Lost (1-4)

Apart from Poonam Yadav Jhulan Goswami and Sikha Pandey too was the pick of the bowlers in the ICC Women Championship. They have picked up 30 and 38 wickets respectively. While Shikha Pandey and Ekta Bisht were not included in the side, Jhulan missed the crucial match in the 4th ODI, due to the injury.

Jhulan Goswami despite her age did a fabulous job. She has picked up 2 wickets in the first match. Her 4/42 was the instrument in the only match that India has won this series. She has picked up 8 wickets in three matches with an average of 12. Apart from this, her economical bowling too kept the batters on their toes. Jhulan who was playing international cricket after almost 15 months, proved what she is capable of.

India in ICC World Cup, which is scheduled to happen a year later, will be hugely dependent on her broad shoulder.  Playing international cricket after almost 15 months, Jhulan is the highest wicket-taker in the series, for India, but she didn’t get the support.

In absence of Shikha Pandey, India team handed over the ODI cap to the left-arm seamer Monica Patel in the first ODI. But after her not so good outing, Mansi Joshi was given a go. Though she did well in the 2nd ODI, she was dealt with disdain in the next two. She picked up only one wicket in those matches. India might play three seamers in the New Zealand pitches. So the management needs to find another seamer who can join the ranks of Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami.

Harmanpreet Kaur after the first ODI told that the rhythm was missed due to the pandemic  “…We didn’t get much time where we got to work as a unit. In any format, as a team, you need to spend time on the field and get ready for any series. In the past few years, we had built a rhythm but to create that rhythm again we will need some time. In the next game, we will try to do that as a unit.”

As the World Cup is merely 11 months away, we would hope that the Indian spinner finds their desired momentum and rhythm in the upcoming series.

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