NEW DELHI: India finally won an ODI series in South Africa. The visitors defeated the Proteas by 73 runs in the fifth one-day international at the St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, to take a 4-1 lead in the six-match series.
India bowlers led by Kuldeep Yadav (4/57) and Hardik Pandya (2/30) bowled South Africa out for 201 in 42.2 overs, registering a comprehensive victory, after Rohit Sharma scored a hundred to help India set a challenging 275-run target. South Africa lost their last four wickets for five runs to the spin duo as India claimed a historic maiden series win.
Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43) also took two wickets for India, while Jasprit Bumrah (1/22) chipped in with a wicket. Hashim Amla top-scored for the hosts with 71 off 92 balls.
After a good start in their chase, South Africa lost three wickets in quick succession – AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Aiden Markram. Markram was in good nick and scored 32 off 32 balls which included a six and four boundaries. The Proteas skipper also put on 52 runs for the opening wicket with Amla, before giving a simple catch to his counterpart Virat Kohli at mid-off off Bumrah in the tenth over.
Seven balls later, Pandya dismissed Duminy in his first over, before landing the big wicket of de Villiers in the second. South Africa were reduced to 65/3 in 12.5 overs from 52/0 in 9.3. Amla and David Miller then resurrected the South African run chase by adding 62 for the fourth wicket. Miller (36 off 51 balls), while trying to increase the tempo, was clean bowled by Chahal in the 27th over.
But unlike at Wanderers, South African batsmen found it tough to negotiate India’s wrist spinners – Yadav and Chahal. The spin duo gave away 100 runs in their 19.2 overs and took six wickets and along with Pandya, they squeezed the runs in the middle overs.
In the one end, Amla continued to keep South Africa in the hunt and scored his 35th ODI fifty off 72 balls, hitting three fours. Amla added 39 for the fifth wicket with Heinrich Klaasen, but his long vigil ended in an unfortunate way beaten by Pandya’s direct hit. And it ended South Africa’s hopes for a comeback in the match.
Earlier, after a series of dismal performances, scoring just 40 runs in first four ODIs, Rohit roared back to form and scored his 17th ODI hundred as India made 274/7 after sent in to bat. He smashed 11 fours and four sixes to score a classy 115 off 126 balls. Rohit added three crucial partnerships during his innings – 48 with Shikhar Dhawan, 105 with Virat Kohli and 60 with Shreyas Iyer. But his untimely wicket in the 43rd over stopped India from reaching 300-mark.
Pacer Lungi Nigidi triggered a late collapse for India as he took four wickets, including back-to-back wickets in the 43rd. India lost three of those wickets for just two runs and in 12 balls, all caught behind by wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen. Ngidi finished with figures of four for 51 in nine overs and restricted India to 55 runs in the final ten overs.
India openers gave India a good start with Dhawan and Rohit adding 48, before Kagiso Rabada got the better of the left-hander in the eighth over. Dhawan hit eight boundaries during his 34-run cameo off 23 balls.
Rohit and Kohli then maintained the early momentum and took India to 100-mark in 17.1 overs. After a cautious start, Rohit opened up by hitting two sixes, one each off Rabada and Ngidi, as he reached his first fifty (off 50 balls) of the series. While Rohit was scoring in good speed, Kohli was uncharacteristically slow hitting just one four in his first 52 balls. And the introduction of spinners, JP Duminy and Tabraiz Shamsi, also slowed down India’s scoring rate in the middle overs.
Kohli was not in his elements and his second boundary, at third man, came in the 26th over. But soon, while trying to steal a quick run, a miscommunication between him and Rohit sent the India skipper back to the pavilion. Kohli scored 36 off 54 balls, which included just two boundaries, but added 105 for the second wicket with Rohit in 18.1 overs. It was the seventh time, Kohli and Rohit are involved in a run out and the current skipper was the victim in five occasions.
India lost another wicket to run out when Ajinkya Rahane (8) was sent back by Rohit while going for a quick single. With that, India lost two wickets for 23 runs in 6.2 overs. Along with young Iyer, Rohit stabilised the innings and reached his 17th hundred off 107 balls. The duo added a valuable 60 runs for the fourth wicket in 10.3 overs.
Then Ngidi scalped centurion Rohit and allrounder Hardik Pandya in consecutive balls, in a maiden 43rd over, to put a brake on India’s run charge. Ngidi then removed Iyer (30) in his next over, before dismissing Dhoni (13) in the penultimate over of the match.
Brief scores: India 274/7 (Rohit Sharma 115; Lungi Ngidi 4/51) beat South Africa 201 all out (Hashim Amla 71; Kuldeep Yadav 4/57) by 73 runs