Rohit Sharma’s timely contribution of 115 at St George’s Park is our Play of the Day.
Sharma came into this fixture desperate for a score of substance. He failed in the Test series, scoring 11 and 10 in Cape Town, and then 10 and 47 in Centurion. He then battled in the first four matches of the ODI series, with scores of 20, 15, 0 and 5.
India were fortunate that those failures did not cost them more results. Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, and several others fired with the bat to ensure that the visitors went to St George’s Park with a 3-1 lead in the series.
Dhawan was dismissed for 34, and so it was left to Sharma to provide Kohli with support. The pair put on 105 runs for the second wicket to set India up for a score in excess of 300.
Sharma made a couple of mistakes toward the end of the visitors’ innings. He sent Kohli back after the captain had advanced halfway down the pitch. He did the same to Ajinkya Rahane six overs later. Both Kohli and Rahane were run-out as a result.
Sharma was on 96 when he played a ramp shot down to third man. Fortunately for India, Tabraiz Shamsi put the chance down.
Lungi Ngidi found the edge of Sharma’s bat in the 43rd over, and this time wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen made no mistake. Sharma’s innings of 115 included 11 fours and four sixes. India may well have surpassed 300 if the opener had spent a few more overs at the crease.
The India bowlers combined to dismiss South Africa for 201 thereafter. And yet it was Sharma who was named Man of the Match.
‘It was a long time coming,’ he said at the post-match presentation. ‘It’s always a good feeling when you score a hundred and your teams wins. It’s been the hallmark of our team that once you get in, you make it count [as one of the top three]. It was my day today.’
The Proteas will be hoping that it’s not Sharma’s day – or Dhawan’s or Kohli’s, for that matter – when they host India in the final ODI in Centurion on Friday.
Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix