David Miller is one of the most dangerous hitters of the ball in limited-overs cricket but against India, his bat is not blazing enough.
After winning the Test series convincingly, South Africa were all set to give India a run for their money in the One-day Internationals (ODIs). They were the red-hot favourites with the series being played in their backyard, but two games into the series, the outcome has been surprising. Not that India were underdogs going into the series, but the fact that South Africa were completely outplayed in both the games is astonishing.
Indian wrist spinners wreaked havoc, especially in the second game, picking eight wickets between them in Centurion. South Africa were bowled out for 118, which is also their lowest total at home. They failed to put any fight whatsoever and were completely undone by Indian spinners aggression. Their batting floundered like nine pins and had no answer whatsoever.
In the absence of AB de Villiers, the pressure of getting runs has only increased on the veterans. But their failure to do so, has cost South Africa heavily. Here, let’s talk about the failure of David Miller. The southpaw bats in the middle-order and his parched runs column against India is not helping his side’s cause. Miller averages just over 16 in 15 ODIs against India with the highest score of an unbeaten 56.
In the ongoing series, Miller has only managed to garner seven runs from two outings. He has looked bereft of oomph against spinners and didn’t manage to hold his ground for long. Some players do struggle to get going against a particular side, and in Miller’s case, it is India.
A struggling Miller
Miller walked in to bat at 51 for 3 inside14 overs, South Africa were certainly placed in a precarious situation and needed him to fire with all cylinders. They were in desperate need of a partnership and this was the best time for Miller to prove his exploits. But it wasn’t to be. He was completely outfoxed by Kuldeep Yadav, or, one can even say that the batsman exhibited poor technique.
Kuldeep pitched the ball way outside off and being a chinaman, his stock deliveries were always going to turn away from the left-hander. Kuldeep lured him into the drive and the ball turned after pitching, but all Miller managed to get was a fine edge, which was comfortably cupped by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.
In the first ODI, Miller was undone by Kuldeep again. The bowler drew him to play away from the body by pitching the ball outside off stump. Kuldeep was slower through the air and Miller pushed hard at it only to be excellently caught by Kohli at short cover. His dismissals in two games so far has certainly sparked concerns regarding his technique against spin bowling.
The role of a middle-order batsman is a big one. If the top-order fails to fire, he needs to do the repair work and if the batting clicks, he needs to keep up the tempo. For most of the teams, the best batsmen bat in the top six and South Africa have trusted Miller with a huge responsibility. In his career so far, Miller has done a prolific job at five, averaging 44.57 in 32 games, but needs to pull against Indian spinners.
Miller is a T20 giant and also known as ‘Killer-Miller- for his killer exploits in the shortest format of the game. But ODI is a different game altogether. A batsman needs to bid his time out in the middle and get used to the conditions before playing his shots, especially against the dominating Indian spinners. Numbers suggest that Miller has done well in this format, but this series will test his Achilles heel. He needs to make some technical tweak in order to achieve success against India.
Miller has been a good finisher, but here he needs to build an innings. With the top-order having failed to fire in two games, the pressure on the middle-order is only increasing. Miller has walked out to bat on a couple of occasions when his side was under the pump but failed to deliver. It wouldn’t be wrong in saying that he will get more opportunities and needs to grab it with both the hands. It would be cruel to blame Miller alone for the failure, but he is just 28-year old and has a lot of cricket left in him. He needs to make it big against a top side like India in order to make an impact and justify his selection.
With four games to go, the onus of making a comeback is now on South Africa, but India will be a tough nut to crack. They need to bring their best game out in order to tame the Indian monsters. Miller needs to step up and deliver when his side needs the most. With an experience of over 100 ODIs, he is a veteran in this side and is supposed to do a lot better than what he has done so far in the series.