Image courtesy of: Zimbio
India captain Virat Kohli led by example as he struck a fantastic 160 not out to lead his side to a comprehensive 124-run win over South Africa in the third ODI in Cape Town.
Being put in to bat first, India lost opener Rohit Sharma on the sixth ball of the match as he was caught behind off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada for a duck.
Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli made up for the loss of Rohit with a 140-run partnership, during which both batsmen surpassed their half-centuries.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
With India in cruise control and scoring at a healthy rate, South Africa were in desperate need of a breakthrough. However, they had to wait until the 24th over to get it when Dhawan was caught by Aiden Markram at short midwicket off the bowling of JP Duminy for 76, which came off 63 balls and included 12 boundaries.
Even though India began losing wickets at regular intervals after Dhawan’s dismissal, Kohli kept taking the attack to the Proteas’ bowling line-up.
Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ensured India ended their innings on a high as they amassed an unbeaten 67-run stand, during which Kohli went past the 150-run mark.
Kohli ended up making 160 off 159 balls, which included 12 boundaries and two sixes, while Kumar remained undefeated on 16 off 19 deliveries, which included a solitary boundary.
Thanks to Kohli’s superb performance with the bat, India finished on 303/6 off their 50 overs.
Duminy was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Rabada, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Imran Tahir took one wicket apiece.
Chasing 304 to win, South Africa were dealt a huge blow on the seventh ball of the innings as opener Hashim Amla was trapped lbw off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah for one run.
Duminy and stand-in captain Aiden Markram steadied the ship with a 78-run partnership before Markram was stumped by MS Dhoni off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav for 32.
Debutant Heinrich Klaasen only made six runs before being given out lbw off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal.
Duminy went on to make 51 off 67 balls, which included four boundaries, before he suffered the same fate as Klaasen.
Duminy opted to review the decision, but it didn’t save him as replays showed that the ball was pitching in line and going on to hit leg stump.
Once Duminy was gone, South Africa completely collapsed. Since none of the other batsmen made any major contributions, they ended up being bowled out for 179.
Chahal and Kuldeep snapped up four wickets apiece, while Bumrah claimed two.
Markram was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Everything is disappointing about this. Yet again not up to the mark. We’ve got ourselves to blame, have to try harder. I felt when we were in the field, we were in. We managed to claw our way back and restrict them to 303, which I though was chaseable.
“Unfortunately we didn’t take it deep enough and you don’t win a match like that. We’ve come across them [spinners] and after all that time if we’re still struggling to pick them, it speaks of their quality. It’s a bit about that and about confidence as well. [About AB returning for the 4th ODI] I’d love it! I think that would spur the guys on.”
Kohli, who was named Man of the Match, was delighted to have won again, and said: “Well the tour didn’t start off too well but I knew I had to come in and get stuck in for us to compete in every game. Feels very good that it’s coming off in winning causes. It started off with good pace and bounce.
“The new ball was hitting the bat nicely with pace. It was a drastic change after the 30th over and we immediately chopped down out target from 330 to 280-290. You’re always looking for someone to bat till the end and it’s amazing if you do it as the captain. Another good partnership with Shikhar and a good stand with Bhuvi in the end as well.
“I was cramping towards the end but knew I had to stay till the end to get us 300. These are the times you’re tested mentally as well as physically. [The spinners] We wanted to give them the pressure of defending today and it worked out. The intensity will be more in the fourth game because we can’t lose this series anymore. I’m sure they’ll come all guns blazing so we want to close that door.”