India vs South Africa: A 180-deg turn against spin
Prior to his maiden hundred in Asia, Quinton de Kock was averaging 21 in nine innings in the continent, perishing to spinners on eight instances. But the century against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a (slow) turning track dispelled doubts regarding his ability to not only negate but dominate the spinners.
Often, naturally aggressive players with a storied vulnerability against quality spinners manufacture caution, which in turn over-complicates their method. But de Kock wasn’t torn between the natural and unnatural. Right from the start, whenever the ball was in his scoring arc, he wouldn’t hesitate to bring out the big stroke. Like the fifth ball he faced, he played a gorgeous cover drive off Ravindra Jadeja. The key, as it has been throughout the knock, was his fluid front-foot stride. The big stride neutered the turn. He seldom prodded or stabbed at the ball, the hands always followed the feet, ensuring that he was seldom caught at the crease.
Though spinners claim they like batsmen embracing the aerial route, repeated onslaught ruffles them. De Kock’s intermittent lofted strokes disrupted both Ashwin and Jadeja. Quite early in the innings, he lofted the offie over mid-on, forcing Ashwin to shorten his length and bowl more towards his body, taking out the threat posed by the rough outside the off-stump. He, though, was judicious in not over-using the lofted shots. There was a classic instance later in his innings when he carved Ashwin for a six, forcing him to shorten the length, and the follow-up ball was slapped through third man for a boundary.
Sticking to strengths
As much as 75 percent of his runs were scored through cuts and drives. There was a reverse-swept boundary, but overall he barely played the conventional sweeps or sashayed down the ground as players from outside the subcontinent are often advised to, but which aren’t his strengths. As with most of his innings, a majority of the runs came through the off-side, especially between cover and long off (as many as 44 runs). The cut, his staple on most wickets, was one of his most productive strokes (four of his 16 boundaries and 20 runs).