Shardul Thakur took four wickets as India bowled South Africa out for 204 in the sixth ODI at Centurion.
The India bowlers have dominated proceedings over the course of this six-match series. The first half of the clash at Centurion was no different, with the seamers as well as the wrist-spinners squeezing and stifling the Proteas batsmen, and claiming wickets at crucial times.
Virat Kohli has every reason to feel confident about his team’s chances of victory. India need just 205 runs to win, and are well placed to finish 5-1 up in the series.
The India skipper won the toss earlier today and didn’t hesitate to bowl first. Kohli said that the visitors had the bowlers to keep South Africa honest, as well as the batsmen to chase down any total set by a Proteas side missing Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.
The visitors had little to prove coming into this match. They made one change, with Shardul Thakur coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
That change proved significant. Thakur bowled with energy and purpose in his opening spell, and claimed the key wickets of Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram.
AB de Villiers and Khaya Zondo then proceeded to rebuild the innings. Zondo survived an lbw decision early on, thanks to a successful review. Thereafter, he looked to use his feet against the spinners and hit them to the leg-side.
That partnership yielded 62 runs. In the 21st over, De Villiers failed to read Yuzvendra Chahal’s flipper, and was clean bowled.
That was the turning point. The Proteas slipped into a hole, with Zondo and Heinrich Klaasen battling to boost the run-rate. After being contained for several overs, Klaasen attempted to smash Jasprit Bumrah for a boundary but only succeeded in finding Kohli in the covers.
Farhaan Behardien and Chris Morris failed to make meaningful contributions. Zondo tried to push on, and eventually reached his maiden ODI half-century off 67 balls. He was dismissed soon after that, though, when he mishit a Chahal delivery and was caught in the deep.
Morne Morkel walked to the crease at the end of the 37th over, with the score on 151-7. Morkel and Andile Phehlukwayo managed to see off the spinners and then hit some important boundaries at the death.
In the end, however, the Proteas were bowled out inside 47 overs. Thakur came back after being smashed for two sixes to dismiss Phehlukwayo with a sharp catch off his own bowling. South Africa lost their last seven wickets for 99 runs.
The specialist batsmen should come in for some heavy criticism after this abject performance. The shot selection was poor, and the composure under pressure was sadly lacking.
The odds are against the Proteas winning the match from here. India boast several batsmen in terrific form. The hosts will be without one of their best bowlers in Kagiso Rabada, who has been rested for this match.
SA 204 (46.5 overs) – Khaya Zondo 54, Andile Phehlukwayo 34, Shardul Thakur 4-52, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-38
India need 205 to win
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Aiden Markram (c), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Khaya Zondo, 5 Fahraan Behardien, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Imran Tahir, 11 Lungi Ngidi
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (c), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
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