South Africa’s opening act,the show’s headlinershttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/south-africas-opening-act-the-shows-headliners/

South Africa’s opening act,the show’s headliners

Centurions at Kingsmead: De Kock and Amla put up their second 150+ stand in as many matches.

Back in Johannesburg,Quinton de Kock had smacked the Indian bowlers with audacity and contempt around the Wanderers. But as he sat next to his skipper AB de Villiers at the media interaction,the 20-year-old wicketkeeper looked every bit like an anxious and fidgety kid,desperate to avoid detention. There was hardly an occasion where the youngster didn’t throw a nervous glance at his captain before responding to a query.

But de Kock had shown that he hardly requires any parental guidance or supervision when he holds a bat. Unlike at the Wanderers,where the Indian bowlers failed to make the most of favourable conditions,there was not much on offer at Kingsmead. The result was no different. A hard-hitting century,another display of his remarkable skill and the umpteenth reminder of his prodigal talent.

If anything,the aggressive left-hander only seemed to be in cruise mode this time around. The Indian pace attack,bolstered at least in terms of pace by the inclusion of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav,had hit the right areas more often in the initial overs than they did during the entire South African innings at Johannesburg. But soon,in fact as early as the ninth over,Mohammad Shami had lost his line and length. He dished out a half-volley and a short delivery,both of which were duly despatched to the wide long-off and deep square-leg fences. Ishant then pitched one short of length in the very next over and was short-arm pulled through square-leg. De Kock was away.

There was a tinge of tackiness about the Kingsmead wicket. The ball was stopping at times en route to the batsman. And the outfield resembled a low-quality golf course,with bunker-like areas – owing to all the sawdust sprinkled to dry up the wet spots – around the ground.

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But de Kock seemed to have no real issues against either Ravichandran Ashwin or Suresh Raina,who were brought on right after the first powerplay. He used his feet as exquisitely as he had done in the first ODI,and never let the off-spinners settle. Once more,he used the sweep – both conventional and reverse – to great effect,putting off Ashwin in particular. At the other end,Hashim Amla was in no hurry either,and keenly in pursuit of his first international century on his home ground,a surprising statistic considering the mountain of records that the bearded right-hander has amassed around the world across formats.

But yet again,he was upstaged by the exhibition of raw talent at the other end. Sunday wasn’t the first that de Kock had overshadowed other batting performances with a knock of his own. He has after all always lived with the tag of being the boy-wonder from Johannesburg. If Thursday’s century was an emotional one,with his parents and family cheering him on from the stands,this one at Kingsmead was all about restating the abundance of ability in the young man’s possession.