Man of the Match, Virat Kohli, slammed a stunning century and featured in a match-winning record partnership of 189 in 188 balls with Ajinkya Rahane as India thrashed South Africa by six wickets in the first Momentum one-day international at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday night.
It was a sobering outing for the South Africans and the expectant 16 600 crowd as the two Indian batsman lashed the Proteas’ bowlers to all corners of Kingsmead. A target of 270 for victory, which had seemed a challenging one, was achieved with ease in just 45.3 overs. Their partnership was an all-time record for the third wicket between South Africa and India, beating the 173 compiled by Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs in Ahmedabad in 2009/10.
The two men came together on 67/2 in the 13th over after Rohit Sharma had been caught by Quinton de Kock off Morne Morkel after playing a wild stroke, while Shikhar Dhawan was needlessly run out. But if there was any residual doubt about the visitors’ ability to chase down their target, it soon disappeared as the two men quickly settled down.
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A feature of the partnership was their constant rotating of the strike and their ability to judge a tight single with precision. They also decided to milk legspinner Imran Tahir without taking any chances, with the Proteas’ strike bowler going for 51 in his 10 overs.
Both Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada bowled quickly but without penetration while Chris Morris was smashed for 52 in his seven overs. The two part-time bowlers, JP Duminy and Aiden Markram, were particularly harshly treated as they disappeared for a combined total of 36 in four overs.
After such a brilliant display of batting, it seemed a pity that both men gave their wickets away at the end, with both holing out in the outfield seeking to continue their spectacular progress. Rahane was the first to go for 79 in 86 balls (five fours and two sixes), and Kohli followed shortly afterwards for 112 in 119 balls (10x4s), but it mattered not as the visitors swept to victory.
Earlier, Faf du Plessis struck a superb century to enable his team to reach 269/8, a total that seemed to offer a good challenge for the Indian batsmen.
The Proteas’ skipper struck 11 fours and two sixes in his 112-ball innings – his ninth ODI ton – as he guided his team through some choppy waters on a two-paced pitch that gave considerable assistance to India’s wrist-spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who picked up five wickets between them.
It looked easy going for the Proteas in the early overs, however, as Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock eased into their work against the undeviating pace attack of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. De Kock, after his troubles in the test series, looked in fine fettle, unleashing some elegant drives against the pacemen.
It was a surprise when Amla was the first to go in the eighth over after he lost balance when Bumrah angled a full delivery into his pads. It was a marginal decision but Amla was given out leg before, with TV replays showing that Bumrah had only just bowled a legitimate delivery.
Du Plessis showed plenty of aggression early on as he and De Kock reached a half-century partnership. At this stage, the Proteas were scoring at more than five runs to the over.
The introduction of the two wrist-spinners, however, not only slowed the run rate but created plenty of problems for the batsmen who were not always able to read them. De Kock quickly fell victim to Chahal, adjudged leg before although replays showed the ball would have missed the leg stump. Neither Du Plessis nor De Kock asked for a review, however.
While the skipper held firm, wickets now began to fall regularly, with Aiden Markram, JP Duminy and David Miller all falling cheaply as the Proteas stumbled from 83/1 to 134/5. Markram was well caught at midwicket attempting to clip Chahal, Duminy was clean bowled, bamboozled by Yadav’s googly, while Miller, playing too early, pushed Yadav to Virat Kohli at short extra cover. The Indian captain picked up a good low catch diving forward.
Du Plessis was then joined by Chris Morris and Kohli may have missed a trick at this stage as he withdrew his spinners and re-introduced his pace attack. The two batsmen then added 74 in 78 balls, the best partnership of the innings, before Morris provided Yadav with his third wicket, bowled while sweeping.
Du Plessis received further useful assistance from Andile Phehlukwayo (27*) in another half-century partnership before he departed in the final over, caught at long-off.
The next game in the six-match series takes place at Centurion on Sunday.
SOUTH AFRICA: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (capt), Aiden Markram, Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal