India vs South Africa 4th ODI: Kohli’s ton brings India level

Kohli celebrates after scoring his 23rd ODI century

Kohli celebrates after scoring his 23rd ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

India batsman Virat Kohli scored a sensational 138 to not only lead his side to a 35-run win over South Africa in the fourth ODI in Chennai, but also bring them level at 2-2 in the series.

Kohli was well supported by fellow batsman Suresh Raina, who smashed an entertaining 53.

However, South Africa captain AB de Villiers deserves a lot of credit for his valiant innings of 112.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would not have been pleased with his decision to bat first early on as openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were dismissed in quick succession.

Ajinkya Rahane stabilised the innings with a solid knock of 45 before Kohli and Raina began to take over. The duo took the attack to the South African bowling attack before Raina was caught by de Villiers at midwicket off the bowling of Dale Steyn.

Raina’s excellent innings of 53 came off 52 balls and included three boundaries and a six.

Raina hit three boundaries and a six during his knock of 53

Raina hit three boundaries and a six during his knock of 53

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Kohli fell a short while later for 138 off 140 deliveries, which included six boundaries and five sixes, but it was thanks to his spectacular knock that India were able to finish on 299/8 off their 50 overs.

Steyn and Kagiso Rabada picked up three wickets apiece, while Chris Morris chipped in with one.

Chasing 300 to win, South Africa got off to a brisk start before they began to lose wickets at regular intervals. With allĀ of the batsmen, except de Villiers, failing to fire, the Proteas found themselves in deep trouble.

De Villiers’ knock of 112, which came off 107 balls and included 10 boundaries and two sixes, nearly carried South Africa across the finish line, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.

De Villiers' 22nd ODI century went in vain

De Villiers’ 22nd ODI century went in vain

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Harbhajan Singh snapped up two and Mohit Sharma, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra claimed one wicket each.

De Villiers was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “We had a great opportunity to clinch the series and the fans will be happy in Mumbai after 2-2. No, the toss didn’t decide the fate, a lot of people tried to get that out of me but that’s not true. It was a hard-fought game and I loved the way the boys fought till the end. It was a pretty tough wicket to play on and Virat assessed the conditions very well early on. The ball was turning quite a bit and I got a few away at the end, I worked hard and hopefully we’ll take some positives to Mumbai.”

Dhoni was ecstatic to have levelled the series at 2-2, and said: “As a total team we did well, bowled well and batted well. They (batsmen) need to give themselves a bit more time and that was the reason to promote Raina and after he gets going he can play the big shots. Everyone has scored runs in the series now so that’s good going into the last match. Virat batted exceedingly well.

“I think it is (short ball is a weapon in the death overs), especially when the grounds are bigger and the ball gets scuffed up. It gets difficult to clear the ball from an awkward height to go for the big shots and the bowlers are the ones who evolve better than the batsmen, with the fifth fielder they think it’s heaven for them now. It was important that the bowlers took the responsibility, so I shuffled them up and the three spinners were good. The fast bowlers also have to do their job and finish their quota of 10, or at least nine overs so I decided not to use a part-time bowler.”

Kohli was named Man of the Match, and said: “The cramps are fine now and the physio told me not to take a chance because I might tear a muscle or two if I sprint or something and the fifth match is still left. It was pretty difficult because there wasn’t much breeze during the day when it was hot. If AB starts cramping then you know how hard it is because he is one of the fittest people around.

“They were bowling in good areas and it was tough to get the boundaries so we had to get the single and twos. It always feels good when you get a century and the team wins and while chasing I like it because you get a chance to finish the game. Any century in a winning cause is always special. I told him (de Villiers) in the dressing room my heart was in my mouth when he was batting, he plays unbelievable shots. He’s a very modest man too, never praises himself so I’ll do that for him. The credit goes to him, he fought it out.”

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