South Africa-India Cricket: JP Duminy a Decisive Factor as Proteas Level Series

Richard O'HaganCorrespondent IIJanuary 21, 2011

JP Duminy was the key to South Africa's victory
JP Duminy was the key to South Africa's victoryGallo Images/Getty Images

In the end, the rain came down and ruined any hopes of a finish to this strangest of one day games. India began the day in search of a first series victory in South Africa and, for a time, it looked as if their hosts were absolutely determined to gift it to them.

South Africa won the toss and began well. Captain Graeme Smith is currently batting like a man who has never played this game before, but he and Hashim Amla still managed to put of 57 for the first wicket. Amla then put on 49 with Morne van Wyk and everything looked to be going smoothly for the Proteas. And then the headless chicken impression began.

The 106-1 score swiftly became 118-5 as two batsmen fell to the part-time spin of Yuvraj Singh, whilst Amla and Tuesday's hero Faf du Plessis both ran themselves out for no apparent reason.

Enter JP Duminy. The left-hander may not be everybody's idea of a matchwinner, but here he proved any doubters wrong with an innings that was the dictionary definition of "nuggety," grinding out an unbeaten 71 from 72 balls that included only three boundaries.

That might not look like the greatest innings of all time, but any occasion where you are at almost a run a ball is going to be invaluable in this form of cricket, no matter how you do it.

Duminy found support from Johan Botha, who made 44 and will have been disappointed to fall just short of his career best of 48, and Robin Petersen. Petersen was controversially preferred to leg spinner Imran Tahir for this game, but his 31 was key in this South African victory.

India's problem was that a batting lineup with no Sehwag, no Gambhir, no Vijay and no Tendulkar was always going to look a little lightweight and they acted like it. Neither Rohit Sharma nor Parthiv Patel has ever convinced as an opener and they dragged the rest of the side down with them. India collapsed to 49-3 and then, after Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina had added 63 to the total, from 112-3 to 128-6.

It was that last collapse which killed off India's hopes, because the rain came down to end their innings at 142, 48 runs behind on the Duckworth/Lewis method when they would have been ahead with only three wickets down. Kohli was left high and dry on 87 and really did deserve to at least add to his four hundreds in this form of the game.

The series now moves to a decider on Sunday. After the way that this series has gone the only thing you can be sure of is that it will be a closely fought game, and that there will be a batting collapse on at least one side.