Durban: Captain Virat Kohli further enhanced his reputation as a ‘chase master’ as he smashed his 33rd hundred to lead India to a six-wicket victory over South Africa in the first cricket one-dayer here on Thursday.
Kohli struck 112 off 119 balls with the help of 10 boundaries and put on 189 runs for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (79 runs of 86 balls) as India chased down the target of 270 with 4.3 overs to spare.
It was the highest stand for India in South Africa, while Kohli notched up his 20th hundred in a run-chase, out of which 18 have been successfully converted to victories.
After scoring freely all across the world, this was Kohli’s first ODI hundred on the South African soil.
India got off to a quick start with Rohit Sharma (20) and Shikhar Dhawan (35) adding 33 for the opening wicket. Rohit was looking to play his strokes but miscued one off Morne Morkel (1/35) in the seventh over and was out caught.
Dhawan and Kohli then added 34 runs for the second wicket and the duo was looking good to take advantage of South Africa’s spinners when the former was run-out.
Kohli took off for a quick single in the 13th over but Dhawan was late in responding having taken a strike and was run-out by Aiden Markram’s direct throw.
Kohli and Rahane came together thereafter and did not give the Proteas a sniff. The most vital aspect of this partnership was the running between wickets. The duo looked to cut down on errors, calling loud and clear. They brought their 100-standoff 112 balls.
Kohli then celebrated his maiden hundred on South African soil in style, reaching there off 105 balls. In doing so, he equalled Sourav Ganguly’s record of most ODI hundreds as Indian captain. Both now have 11 centuries, with Kohli reaching the milestone in 41 innings as compared to Ganguly’s 142 innings.
Rahane was out caught in the 43rd over, while Kohli’s innings ended three overs later. He walked off to a rousing reception from the Durban faithful even as the home side were subjected to a demoralizing defeat.
This was after India’s leg-spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared 5 wickets between them as South Africa were restricted to 269/8.
Yadav took 3/34 and Chahal returned 2/45 as the duo excelled in their first proper overseas outing, underlining the team management’s faith in leg spin since July last year.
Proteas’ skipper Faf du Plessis (120 runs, 112 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes) scored his ninth ODI hundred after South Africa’s top-order collapse. The hosts lost 4 wickets for 51 runs before du Plessis and Chris Morris (37) rescued them with a 74-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Chahal trapped de Kock lbw in the 15th over, and the batsman walked without bothering for a review. Had he opted for the referral, he would have survived. Du Plessis, alternately, would have been given out lbw on 18 if India had opted for DRS at the end of the 13th over.
The spinners took quick wickets thereafter and did not allow South Africa’s partnerships to settle even as 100 came up in the 21st over. Aiden Markram (9) was caught off Chahal shortly after.
Then Yadav got into the act. He bowled JP Duminy (12) with one that kept low, whilst foxing David Miller (7) into a false shot as Kohli completed a smart forward-diving catch at short extra-cover.
Du Plessis reached his half-century off 54 balls and brought up his 50-partnership with Morris off 57 balls. South Africa recovered to reach 200/5 at the end of 40 overs.
Yadav returned for a final spell to bowl Morris in the 41st over. Du Plessis though stood tall and added 56 runs for the seventh wicket with Andile Phehlukwayo (26 not out). In doing so, he brought up his century off 101 balls.