India vs South Africa 1st ODI: De Villiers and Rabada star in close win

De Villiers was named Man of the Match for scoring his 21st ODI century

De Villiers was named Man of the Match for scoring his 21st ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

South Africa captain AB de Villiers led by example with the bat as he blasted an unbeaten 104, while pace bowler Kagiso Rabada took consecutive wickets in the final over to lead the Proteas to a five-run win over India in the first ODI in Kanpur.

De Villiers and Rabada were well supported by batsman Faf du Plessis, who scored 62.

However, India opener Rohit Sharma deserves a lot of credit for his valiant knock of 150, while Ajinkya Rahane made a gutsy 60.

South Africa got off to a solid start after opting to bat first before they lost Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla for 29 and 37 respectively.

Du Plessis was the next to go after he scored 62 off 77 balls, which included five boundaries and a six.

Du Plessis' excellent form with the bat continued

Du Plessis’ excellent form with the bat continued

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

It was at this point that De Villiers began to take over and, despite losing David Miller and Jean Paul (JP) Duminy along the way, the Proteas skipper was able to score his 21st ODI century with a six off the last ball of the innings.

De Villiers ended up making 104 off 73 balls, which included five boundaries and six sixes as South Africa finished on 303/5 off their 50 overs.

Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra picked up two wickets apiece, while Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with one.

Chasing 304 to win, India got off to a superb start, with Sharma and Rahane sharing a 149-run partnership before Rahane was caught by Miller off the bowling of Farhaan Behardien.

Rahane’s excellent innings of 60 came off 82 balls and included five boundaries.

Rahane made a valiant 60

Rahane made a valiant 60

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Following Rahane’s dismissal, India lost Virat Kohli soon after and, with the threat of a major collapse lingering on the horizon, it was only Sharma’s entertaining and aggressive approach that kept India in contention.

However, once Sharma was caught and bowled by Imran Tahir for 150 off 133 balls, which included 13 boundaries and six sixes, in the 47th over, India lost Suresh Raina five balls later.

Sharma's knock of 150 went in vain

Sharma’s knock of 150 went in vain

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Despite this, India still had a great chance of winning the match, but their hopes of doing so were dashed by Rabada’s heroics in the final over, which included dismissing India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Stuart Binny in successive deliveries. Rabada produced one of the best overs of his young career to ensure South Africa earned a hard-fought five-run win, along with a 1-0 lead in the series.

Rabada and Tahir finished with two wickets apiece, while Behardien, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel claimed one wicket each.

Rabada is mobbed by his team-mates after leading South Africa to victory

Rabada is mobbed by his team-mates after leading South Africa to victory

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Dhoni was gutted to have come so close to tasting victory, and said: “The outcome was not great for us, there was plenty that went wrong, but we showed character to get close. Frankly we should have won this game. We missed Ash’s six overs that was crucial because he was our best spinner…until that point the plan was working beautifully but I had to get more overs from Binny and Raina. In the end I thought our bowlers should have done a bit better. I thought the partnership between Rohit and Rahane was superb to keep it ticking.”

De Villiers, who was named Man of the Match, was relieved to have escaped with a win, and said: “I thought it was an amazing game of cricket, close games like that bring the fans in. There were lots of times when the momentum turned, I thought Tahir’s over turned the game on its head, we were out of it then. Rabada proved to be a handful and he’s got a bright future. We just want to go and rest and then move on to the next game.”

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