Virat Kohli went one hundred closer to Sachin Tendulkar when he scored his 33rd ODI ton in the first ODI of the six match series against South Africa. A 189-run stand between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane for the third wicket took the game beyond South Africa as India coasted to a six wicket win. With the win, India ended their sorry record of six losses at Kingsmead, Durban for first ever win in eastern part of the country. MS Dhoni got the winning runs for the visitors with a boundary.
Kohli’s 112 run knock from 119 balls and Rahane’s 79 from 86 balls ended South Africa’s two year winning reign in ODIs at home which stretched to 17 matches. The last time South Africa were beaten at home was off England’s hands in February, 2016. Since then, the Proteas have won against Ireland, Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Attributed to be one of the best chasers in world cricket, Kohli once again made that tag count with his 20th ODI century when batting second with 18 of them resulting in an India win.
Chasing 270 for the win, Kohli and Rahane made the most of good batting conditions and against a potent South Africa bowling attack to comfortably cruise to the win with 27 balls to spare. This despite the fact that he wanted to bat at toss, jarred his knee when fielding, the Indian seamers didn’t have the greatest of days and India losing openers rather tamely. With finish line in sight, both Rahane and Kohli fell but the job was all but complete by then.
While Kohli might dominate headlines and take plenty of attention, Rahane played an important role in the chase as well. He further solidified his place for the No. 4 spot in the Indian team – the only role that hasn’t been clearly chalked out with the World Cup next year. He came out with India bit wobbly – largely due to the nature of Shikhar Dhawan’s exit from the middle. At 67/2 and 37 overs to be bowled, a wicket more and India’s middle order would have been open to testing conditions. Playing second, chasing 270, under the lights and yet to be put through the motions on this tour. With seamers not working, South Africa needed the spin factor to come in. More specifically, Imran Tahir to make an impact – the way India’s spinners did.
Between the two teams, barring the Kohli-Rahane factor, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav made a difference too. As seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah had an off day, the wrist spinners curtailed the flow of runs and more importantly, got key wickets as well. Chahal picked up two wickets while Kuldeep chipped in with three wickets.
For South Africa, skipper Faf du Plessis scored 120 runs to play a perfect counter attacking inning. He found support from Chris Morris at the other end before Kuldeep came back and ended that stand to put the game back in India’s favour. Then Andile Phehlukwayo too chipped in with a late cameo of 27 runs to take South Africa to a respectable and quite decent 269/8.
BRIEF SCORES: India: 270 for 4 (Kohli 112, Rahane 79) beat South Africa: 269 for 8 (Du Plessis 120, Morris 37, Kuldeep 3-34) by six wickets