India-South Africa ODI series: A SWOT analysis

Ritesh Misra Roar Guru

By Ritesh Misra, Ritesh Misra is a Roar Guru

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    In tennis a bagel is a 6-0 score where a player wins a set without conceding a game.

    Cricket almost saw a bagel in the 2018 South Africa-India One Day International (ODI) series where the visitors – led by Virat Kohli – triumphed 5-1. I present to you my SWOT analysis of both sides.


    The Top order is indeed India’s greatest strength in ODIs. Virat showed that he is easily the best batsman in the world in this format with an incredible display.

    He hit three hundreds, a big 50 and became the first player ever to cross 500 in a bilateral ODI series. Hiss average for the series was an incredible 186.

    Shikhar Dhawan left his Test horror behind and played freely in the 50 over format. While Rohit Sharma came good in only one match with a big hundred and had five failures he remains a hit-man in ODI matches and his match-winning ability is such that he will be an automatic opener. 

    The two spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav too were super and excelled throughout the series barring the truncated game which India lost. Ian Chappell gave them an ultimate complement by comparing them to Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly and Clarrie ‘The Fox’ Grimmett. The duo took as many as 33 wickets at an economy of less than five in a commanding display.

    Virat’s captaincy was very good and it is evident that he enjoys leading from the front and the team looks a happy unit with him at helm of affairs with MS Dhoni’s calmness complementing Virat’s exuberance. 

    Virat Kohli runs after hitting a drive

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    Middle order was not up to the mark. Ajinkya Rahane was brought back to the number four position and Shreyas Iyer was tried at 5. They were followed by Hardik Pandya and Dhoni.

    However the Indian middle order’s performance by and large did not impress and it more often than not failed to capitalise on the super starts given by the top order. Fielding was another area of weakness with crucial catches being dropped.

    The Indian think tank needs a long, close look at improving the aspect. 

    Under Kohli, the team looks fit and strong. The skipper himself is super fit and he wants to instil that discipline in the rest of his teammates. In this journey, tough decisions need to be taken such as not selecting players who fail the fitness tests and the team management has done exactly that, not hesitating to drop senior players.

    The results have been good and this ruthless attitude needs to continue. 

    The major threat is lack of a finisher, a role that Dhoni used to do so well. Added to it is that with passage of time, Dhoni’s ability with the bat has understandably gone down. His running between the wickets may still be awesome, but does that suffice?

    India seriously needs to have a thought about Dhoni’s successor in both ODI as well as the T20 format.

    As of now it seems that the team management – as well as Dhoni himself – want him to continue until 2019 and therefore the need is to carve out a role where he can be valuable. Virendra Sehwag says Virat should play Dhoni consistently at Number 4. Would that help?

    South Africa

    South Africa is a team which can explode and it is capable of scoring 200 runs in 25 overs. The side’s fielding is top class with the ability to turn a match their way with a brilliant catch or a run out. 

    South African bowler Morne Morkel


    If South Africa can explode, they can implode as well. The batting may well be able to score 200 in 25, but they don’t seem to be able to have the ability to last 50 overs, especially if the opposition has quality spinners.

    South Africa has a couple of exciting youngsters such as Kagiso Rabada, Adile Phehlukwayo and Heinrich Klaasen who have the potential of doing well on the world stage for some time to come.

    Two years back their National Academy coach Shukri Conrad had said Klaasen who was the captain of South Africa’s emerging squad had potential to be ‘South Africa’s Dhoni’. Klaasen indeed showed glimpses of Dhoni’s most well known quality, coolness in the few chances he got.

    Lungi Ngidi did well in the Tests and maybe South Africa can play him in ODIs as well, keeping in view that the 2019 World Cup will be at England. 

    The seemingly strong decision to give captaincy to a  young captain Aiden Markram appears to be a hasty one, more due to gut feeling than strong reasoning.

    Comparisons were drawn with Graeme Smith but Smith himself says that South Africa could have thought of Hashim Amla or JP Duminy for the first three games and De Villiers after he returned.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • February 20th 2018 @ 9:06am
      Rats said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      That sums up the series for me. Thanks for this.
      Middle order batting in ODIs and the weakness of not being able to score 100+ in the last 10 overs despite being in good position would hurt them in future. They need to fix that before WC.
      Catching is a major concern. If the bowlers don’t get good support from slip fielders, they may very well stop dreaming of winning test series in England.
      Ravi Shastri in an interview last year said that, the team is doing every possible drill they can do to improve slip catching and they are not sure what else to do. He concluded saying all they can do is keep practicing. Well.. practice alone is definitely not helping. Cullinan in an ESPN Cricinfo interview clearly talks about technical faults of indian slip fielders. It made lot of sense. May be time for bcci to hire a slip catching specialist coach.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:17pm
        Ritesh Misra said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

        Thanks and Well said Rats. Middle order batting is going to hurt the team if they dont look at the aspect
        As regards slip catching, i dont think India fileds the same players in the slips always which is very imp. i attended Mike Brearley book release and he said thats an integral part of captaincy as well, accumulation of small things, such as having the same slip fielders next to each other so that they get comfortable with each other.
        It is a goot pace attack but slip catchin is very imp and urgent attention indeed is required.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 20th 2018 @ 9:30am
      savage said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      100+ runs lol they couldn’t manage to score 60 runs in last 10 overs of innings despite having wickets remaining.I would be very happy if they consistently score 80+(or even 75) in last 10 overs of innings.Over 25-40 is also an issue for India batting.Our set batsmen plays lots of dot ball in that period and also one of them is generally nearing towards century.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 11:29am
        Rats said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        Agreed.. dot balls is a serious concern. I hope they work on these issues and just not think everything is fine just because they thrashed SA. U need to score 300+ consistently to beat some of the odi teams.
        Pitch is not a concern as ODIs these days are mostly played on flat tracks all round the world. In fact surprisinly, there has been low scoring ODIs in India and SL in recent times due to slowness of some of the wickets.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 10:20pm
          Ritesh Misra said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

          Excellent input that, the one about some low scoring ODI’s due to slowness of wickets. thanks

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:19pm
        Ritesh Misra said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

        Yes 80 plus on a consistent basis is fine with me as well. 100 plus once in a while would be great. Over 25-40 is indeed a concern as well

    • February 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm
      Paul said | February 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      India is deservedly rated the best ODI side in the world but I don’t get the feeling they’re thinking very far ahead. I recall another author suggesting India needed to blood more players, but Kohli seems to be able to demand the side he wants. That’s fine for now, but this could be an issue moving forward, especially if the players he chooses can’t field to international standards.

      South Africa are obviously rebuilding and are pretty unsettled at present. Guys like AB and de Kock should have had more influence in the series but a lack of form and injury hasn’t helped them, or the squad as a whole. In saying that, they’ve got some pretty exciting players coming through and their work ethic in the field can’t be faulted. I suggest they’ll be very competitive in the next WC, but right now, India are clearly the side to beat.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:24pm
        Ritesh Misra said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

        Yes. Interestingly Kohli in his 35 Tests has never repeated the test 11 even once,. however he seems to prefer the same players in ODI Match after match. This could be an issue if suddenly at SF or Final of world cup a new player has to be played who has not had much match practice earlier
        Still, India has taken an early step towards the claim of one of the favorites. so is england. the odi series between them this year will be interesting

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:13pm
      DavSA said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

      The SA selectors appear to have short memories. When Australia sent a 2nd team to SA for an ODI series they were hammered and SA carried this momentum directly into the Test series with a win. I said it at the time that Australia in resting key players with focus on the tests had handed the test series to SA on a platter . I also felt and said it here on The Roar that it was disrespectful to SA Cricket. Now I have to stay consistent with my viewpoint and say that this is exactly what SA are doing to India who consistently throughout the ODI’s played their best squad. SA are experimenting with new players and listening to Zondi , an SA selector this morning on TV justifying these selections on the basis of seeing what they can do? If we do not already know what players in our domestic circuits can or cannot do then it shows no faith in the quality of local cricket .Australia must be smiling.

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