Port Elizabeth: Indian team led by an inspirational Virat Kohli today scripted history by winning its first ever series across formats on the South African soil as they crushed South Africa by 73 runs thereby taking an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match ODI series.
No Indian men’s side since its first tour in South Africa back in 1992, has ever won a series across any format. They did win a one-off T20 match in 2006 — their first ever shortest format but it was a single match event.
The team under Kohli achieved which neither among Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or Mahendra Singh Dhoni could ever accomplish — in a full-fledged series in the Rainbow Nation.
“Very pleased, another complete performance from us. Only one team had the pressure of losing this series and we knew that. Its history and the guys have worked hard for it. Ever since the third Test in Johannesburg, it’s been a good time for us. It’s been a collective effort to create history,” an ecstatic Kohli said after the match.
After a series of low scores, Rohit Sharma came good when it ultimately mattered as he scored 115 in India’s respectable total of 274 for 7 on a sluggish St George’s Park wicket.
South Africa did put up a fight before wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/57 in 10 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43 in 9.2 overs) found their bearings after a rare off-day to polish off the lower-order in a jiffy as the home team were shot out for 201 in 42.2 overs
One can’t ignore Hardik Pandya’s contribution as his all-around skill sets came into good effect getting 2 for 30 with seamers and then a run-out with a direct throw off in-form Hashim Amla (71), which decisively swung the match in India’s favour.
For Kohli, this is a significant milestone in his three and half years at the helm as this is also his first series win against a top nation on their soil.
The two wrist spinners once again proved to be a revelation as none save Amla could read them properly from their wrists.
Earlier, Rohit ended his prolonged bad patch with a fine hundred as India scored a respectable 274 for 7 after being put into bat.
Despite Rohit’s 115 off 126 balls and first on South African soil, India failed to consolidate during the final 10 overs as they scored only 55 runs after being comfortably placed at 219 for 4.
“I’m glad we could put up the runs on the board and come out and defend it. It’s been the hallmark of our team that once you get in, you make it count at the top 3. We face the most deliveries. It was my day today,” said Man of the Match Rohit Sharma.
After being criticised for his poor show in the series till date and a pitiable average of 11.45 in 12 ODIs (in SA) with the highest score of only 23, Rohit finally played an innings of substance that had 11 boundaries and four sixes.
Looking to overcome his poor run of form then, Rohit started off slowly against Morne Morkel (0/44 in 10 overs) and Kagiso Rabada (1/58 in 9 overs), with the former bowling out two maiden overs.
In-form Shikhar Dhawan, however, stroked his way to 34 off 23 balls, with eight boundaries.
Surprisingly enough, Rohit was in better touch at the other end as he hit another three sixes off Lungi Ngidi (4-51), JP Duminy (0-29) and Tabraiz Shamsi (0-48).