Cape Town - The glory came only last
season, but suddenly it seems so much longer ago than that.
Then, South Africa earned successive,
stirring 5-0 clean sweeps over Australia and Sri Lanka in home one-day
The Aussies were bowled out on three
occasions and the 'Lankans four, en route to those crushing series triumphs.
Fast forward to the present, and just one signal
of how mysteriously inept the Proteas' white-ball cricket has become during
ongoing hostilities with India is that the tourists haven't yet come close to
being bowled out even once in seven encounters (six ODI, one Twenty20).
Little wonder that they romped to a 5-1 ODI
series triumph and already lead the three-match T20 portion of the tour 1-0
with two to play, the second clash at SuperSport Park on Wednesday (18:00
They always say in limited-overs cricket
that wickets in hand is a great way of ensuring consistent momentum, and also a
suitably rousing conclusion to innings - India have enjoyed that luxury a lot
over the last two or three weeks.
The closest South Africa have come to
bagging all 10 wickets in the Indian knock was in the fourth ODI at the
Wanderers (also their lone, slightly fortuitous win by Duckworth/Lewis reduced
method) and fifth at St George's Park, where the visitors batted first each
time and lost seven wickets on each occasion.
India's tail-end batting barely being
tested - or not at all - extended into the first T20 in Johannesburg on Sunday,
where they posted a formidable 203 for five, and the Proteas then seldom looked
like getting genuinely close (ending on 175/9).
Hardly helped by their batting being so
ropey as well, the home nation only grabbed 27 Indian wickets in total during
the ODI series, compared to the 53 - almost exactly double - snared by India.
Conspicuously absent for the most part in
the seven white-ball meetings thus far have been stellar individual hauls by
South African bowlers, even if some have exercised a modicum of acceptable
control and boasted lowish run-concession rates.
Instead a hunger to get busy in the wickets
column has been almost entirely the preserve of Indian bowlers: think Kuldeep
Yadav's 3/34 in the first ODI at Kingsmead, Yuzvendra Chahal's 5/22 in the
second at SuperSport Park, Kuldeep and Chahal each getting "four-fors" at
Newlands, Kuldeep another 4/57 in Port Elizabeth, Shardul Thakur 4/52 in the
closing ODI back at Centurion, and then Bhuvneshwar Kumar earning a career-best
5/24 in Sunday's first T20 fixture.
In all that time, South Africa have earned
a solitary four-wicket haul, emerging young speedster Lungi Ngidi sporting 4/51
at St George's Park, albeit in another losing cause.
So desperate have things become, as the
Proteas experiment with something of a reserve/up-and-coming bowling arsenal,
that there was some trumpeting by SuperSport's South African-based TV commentators
of debutant Junior Dala's two wickets in Sunday's T20.
That said, the Titans seamer still leaked
47 runs from his four overs (an expensive economy rate of nearly 12) although
he certainly warrants a further opportunity to bring that particular statistic
down a bit.
Left-arm chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi did
trouble more than a couple of Indian batsmen and was unlucky to only grab one
wicket, including being a victim of irksome catching lapses by colleagues.
He is the type of customer capable of
striking a few times in succession and, playing on his home ground on
Wednesday, seems an unlikely omission ... even if the more orthodox left-arm spinner
Aaron Phangiso is the only bowling member of the squad not to have had a gallop
in the series yet.
Also not yet blooded is the newcomer from
the Warriors, batsman Christiaan Jonker.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing