“Nevertheless, there is a long ODI series ahead with five more games ahead and de Kock will hope to find some form and repeat some of his India-bashing in the 50-over game”.
The baby-faced destroyer in 2013
South Africa finally had found a wicketkeeper-batsman who would allow AB de Villiers to concentrate on batting and captaincy. A 20-year-old Quinton de Kock played his first match under the South African colours late December, which was a T20I. He made his ODI debut very next month and by the time it the home series against India arrived, de Kock had an experience of 13 ODIs under his belt. He had earlier played in South Africa but the first ODI against India would finally fulfil his dream of playing in front of his home crowd in Johannesburg.
In the 13 ODIs he had played since debut before the India series, he had scored a century but in the majority of the innings, de Kock had failed to convert his starts into big knocks. The Johannesburg match was one of those games where South Africa in support of breast cancer played in pink jerseys instead of their usual green kit. The touring party won the toss and put the Proteas to bat first. A young, baby-faced de Kock, wearing the baby pink jersey walked out with Hashim Amla to open the innings. It was a proud moment for both de Kock and the near entire Johannesburg who was present in the stadium to cheer for the youngster.
The Indian bowlers were not at the best as the South African openers with an ease went took their innings off to a flier. Amla should have been run out for 7 and caught on 8 and de Kock too survived early in his innings. From there on, there was no looking back for them. Amla got out contributing 65 runs in his partnership of 152 runs with de Kock, while the latter brought up his second ODI ton. During the early power-play, South Africa took, de Kock, smacked Mohit Sharma’s slow ball for six, and then took two singles to carry his bat in pride. His second ton came at home.
Those were just signs. Neither the Indian team nor the home side too knew what was in store. By the time De Kock turned 21 in a few days, he already had a few records to his name. He went on to register a century each in the next two ODIs against India and became the fourth player to score three successive one-day hundreds and the second player to score four ODI centuries before his 21st birthday.
De Kock became the third South African to score three consecutive ODI centuries, after Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers. In final ODI against India, which ended in no result due to the rain, he shared a 171-run stand with his skipper and de Villiers’ face expressions at the press conference showed how proud he was of de Kock. The new wicketkeeper-batsman de sat next to de Villiers but the latter allowed the newest entrant of his decorated club do the talking. Both the players made the press laugh, gave away some inspiring statements and that way ended de Kock’s fairy-tale series against India.
Satisfying ODI series in 2015
Two years later, it was India’s turn to return the favour as they hosted South Africa for a full-fledged series. The series underwent with the 50-overs matches and de Kock was quiet for the first two matches with the bat with scores of 29 and 34. In the third ODI, in an attempt to help David Miller during his bad patch, South Africa promoted him to open the innings with de Kock and that meant the keeper-batsman, who was recalled at the start of the series into the side, would be the senior partner of the two. However, the move more or less worked. Miller scored a healthy 41-ball 33 before their 71-run opening stand was broken with the former’s dismissal.
While then Indian skipper Dhoni charged the visitors with one spinner after another, de Kock remained patient, whereas his other senior partners did not. While they all were trapped in the spin web, de Kock slowly and gradually recorded his fifth century and fourth against India in seven innings. From 205 for 2, South Africa went down to 10 for 7 and during that period it was de Kock who held his base well. After both the sides won two games each, the final match at Mumbai was the decider. Batting first in the must-win match, de Kock scored his second, de Villiers his third and Faf du Plessis his first century to pile up a gigantic total of 438 runs. South Africa went on to register their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in India by a huge margin of 214 runs in the decider ODI.
Although de Villiers and du Plessis’ centuries would have slightly overshadowed de Kock’s ton, the fact that he had five centuries against India in nine innings was a tremendous effort from a 22-year-old player.
Three years later, when these two locked horns again, a lot had changed. Dhoni and de Villiers were not the respective skippers anymore. Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina were not in the current Indian ODI side. Jacques Kallis had retired. The last time Dale Steyn had played an ODI was two years ago. However, among the constants, there was de Kock sitting strong on the top of the order and ready to take India once again, just like the last time in 2013. His previous century was just three-innings old and the new Indian skipper Virat Kohli would have had a special plan against de Kock, who would aim to score a fourth consecutive century against India at home.
6.3: WICKET! RG Sharma (20) is out, c Quinton de Kock b Morne Morkel, 33/1
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 1, 2018
The first ODI was played at Durban and the hosts won the toss and batted first. They did not have the best of the starts when they lost Amla early in the innings. He was dismissed at 33 for 1. With that, it was necessary for de Kock to play one of his magic cards against India in order to post a respectable total against this beasty Indian side. However, Indian spinner Yuzvender Chahal ensured de Kock would not make any records on Thursday at least. He trapped de Kock LBW for a mere 34 runs off 49 balls. Although, their skipper du Plessis scored a ton and helped his side post 269 on the board, but that eventually wasn’t enough to stop an in-form Kohli during a chase.
Nevertheless, there is a long ODI series ahead with five more games ahead and de Kock will hope to find some form and repeat some of his India-bashing in the 50-over game.