After an impressive bowling display, skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with the bat to help India beat South Africa by eight wickets in the sixth one-day international at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday. Dominant India wrapped up the six-match series 5-1.
Kohli continued his great form in the series, scoring his 35th ODI century in 82 balls, as he helped India chase down the 205-run target in 32.1 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 129 off 96 balls, which included two sixes and 19 fours. And when he reached 71, Kohli became the first batsman ever to score 500 or more runs in a bilateral ODI series. Kohli finished the series with 558 runs with three centuries, a record for an Indian batsman, and one fifty in six innings. Kohli's five innings in the series before today are - 112, 46*, 160*, 75, 36.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (34 not out) took India home with an unbroken 126-run stand for the third wicket. Rahane played the second fiddle perfectly, hitting three fours in his 50-ball knock.
Chasing the modest target, India lost Rohit Sharma (15) early in the fourth over to Lungi Ngidi. But Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan added 61 runs for the second wicket in nine overs while keeping the scoring rate high. Dhawan, after a watchful 18 off 34 balls, became the second wicket of Ngidi in the 13th over.
India though reached 100-run mark in 14.3 overs. And Kohli soon raced to his 47th ODI fifty in just 36 balls, hitting nine boundaries. Kohli and Rahane made sure that there were no more hiccups in the chase.
Earlier, Indian bowlers proved Kohli's decision to field right as they bowled out South Africa for 204 in 46.5 overs.
Shardal Thakur, who replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, made his return a memorable one by taking four wickets for 52 in 8.5 overs. Thakur provided the early breakthroughs and Hardik Pandya (1/39) along with spinners Yuzvendra Chahal(2/38) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/51) kept the run-flow in check in the middle overs and shared four Proteas wickets. Jasprit Bumrah (2/24) also chipped in with two wickets.
Aiden Markram started the innings positively hitting back-to-back fours off Thakur in the first over, but Bumrah, who bowled a maiden too, squeezed the runs with some tight bowling. Thakur provided India an early breakthrough by dismissing Hashim Amla (10) in the seventh over.
Markram, who scored 24 off 30 balls, hit Thakur for the first six of the match in the tenth over but gave away his wicket almost immediately as Shreyas Iyer took a blinder at the extra cover to give Thakur his second wicket.
AB de Villiers and Khaya Zondo then revived the South Africa innings with a 62-run stand for the third wicket in 11 overs. The duo specially targeted Kuldeep, who leaked 29 in his first four overs. First Zondo smashed Yadav for a back-to-back fours in the 16th over, before de Villiers scored 16 in the 18th hitting three consecutive boundaries.
After a successful review to overturn an LBW decision, Zondo hit Chahal for two sixes. But the spinner came back strongly in his next over and clean bowled de Villiers, who hit four boundaries for 30 off 34 balls.
It became tougher to score after that and at one time it took 40 balls for South Africa to score a boundary as Klaasen hit two fours off Bumrah in the 29th over to stop the rut. Klassen soon gave away a low catch to Kohli, at the short cover, off Bumrah, before the pacer himself took a stunning catch at third man to give Thakur his third wicket in the form of Farhaan Behardien.
Two overs later, Kuldeep sent back Chris Morris (4). And Zondo then became the second victim of Chahal in the 37th over as the home team lost four wickets for 16 runs in 6.3 overs. Zondo, with a career-best 54 off 74 balls with the help of two sixes and three fours, was the top scorer for South Africa as he registered his maiden ODI fifty.
Morne Morkel, who hit 19-ball 20 cameo, and Andile Phehlukwayo (34) added 36 for the eighth wicket to stop the collapse, before Pandya got the better of Morkel. Tahir then became Bumrah's second victim. Phehlukwayo struck two sixes off Thakur to take South Africa over 200-mark, before becoming the bowler's fourth wicket in the same over
Brief score: India 206/2 in 32.1 overs (Virat Kohli 129*; Lungi Ngidi 2/54) beat South Africa 204 all out (Khaya Zondo 54; Shardul Thakur 4/52) by eight wickets. India won the six-match series 5-1
Source: Times of India