Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India captain Virat Kohli struck a superb 129 not out to not only lead his side to an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the sixth ODI in Centurion, but also a 5-1 series win.
With his hundred, Kohli became the fastest player to score 35 ODI centuries as he achieved the feat in 200 innings. Sachin Tendulkar, who finished with 49 ODI centuries during his illustrious career, needed 309 innings to bring up his 35th ODI hundred.
The 29-year-old also became the first Indian batsman to score three centuries in a bilateral ODI series.
Furthermore, he is the first player score 500 runs or more in a bilateral ODI series. The previous record belonged to Rohit Sharma, who accumulated 491 runs in the seven-match series against Australia in 2013.
Having scored a total of 558 runs, the Delhi native also broke the record for the most runs made in a bilateral ODI series against the Proteas in South Africa. Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen was the previous record holder as he amassed 454 runs in a seven-match series back in 2005.
India’s decision to bowl first paid off early on as Shardul Thakur has Hashim Amla caught behind for 10.
Stand-in captain Aiden Markram made an encouraging 24 before he was caught by caught by Shreyas Iyer off the bowling of Thakur.
AB de Villiers and Khaya Zondo stabilised the innings with a 62-run partnership before De Villiers was clean bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal for 30.
Heinrich Klaasen managed to score 22 before being caught by Kohli at short cover, while Farhaan Behardien only mustered one run prior to being removed by Thakur.
Chris Morris failed to have an impact with the bat as he was caught by Shikhar Dhawan off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav for four runs.
Zondo went on to score a career-best 54, which came off 74 balls and included three boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught by Hardik Pandya at deep cover off the bowling of Chahal.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Morne Morkel made an entertaining 20 before he was caught by Iyer at deep cover off the bowling of Pandya.
Tahir scored two runs before South Africa were bowled out for 204 when Andile Phehlukwayo was caught and bowled by Thakur for 34.
Thakur was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Kuldeep and Panyda, they chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing 205 to win, India lost opener Rohit Sharma in the fourth over as he was caught behind off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi for 15.
However, Dhawan and Kohli made up for the loss of Rohit with a 61-run partnership before Dhawan was caught by Zondo at point off the bowling of Ngidi for 18.
However, that was to be South Africa’s last taste of success as Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane finished things off with an unbeaten 126-run partnership, during which Kohli surpassed his hundred.
Kohli ended up making 129 off 96 balls, which included 19 boundaries and two sixes, while Rahane remained undefeated on 34 off 50 deliveries, which included three boundaries.
Ngidi was the only bowler to take any wickets.
Markram was disappointed to have lost again, and said: “It was quite a tough series. It’s something we have to look back at with a lot of thought and try to figure out why we weren’t as good as we could be. They cashed in and that’s where we lacked. It’s how we grow and learn. We will try to take some positives. It’s a nice break away from the format. It’s not a bad thing for us.”
Kohli, who was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, was thrilled to have won 5-1, and said: “It was a day where I felt really good. Last game, I was not in the right kind of mindset. This is a beautiful place to bat under lights. That’s the idea behind bowling first. I like setting up for the short ball. It was a blessing in disguise, and they kept bowling short. I think the pitch got better to bat on under lights.
‘It has been a rollercoaster till now. People who are close to me deserve a lot of credit. My wife has kept me going throughout the tour. I am grateful for that. Obviously, you want to lead from the front, and that’s a wonderful feeling. I have got eight or nine years left in my career and I want to make the most of every day. It’s a blessing that I am healthy and getting to captain my country. They have shown great character – especially the two young spinners. Shikhar at the top, Rohit.
The way the series went augurs well for us. We’re looking forward to the T20s. The tour is not over yet. As a team, we felt we did not play with the right frame of mind in the first two Tests. Come Johannesburg, we made up our mind that we will not take a backward step. After losing the Test series, I was talking to you. I am here taking to you after winning the ODI series.”