India beat South Africa by 73 runs at St George’s Park to take a 4-1 lead in the six-game series.
India deserved to win this match, and ultimately the series. Their batsmen – spearheaded by Rohit Sharma – did enough to post a competitive total of 274 at St George’s Park. Their bowlers squeezed and squeezed until each of the Proteas batsmen capitulated. In the end, the visitors won by a comfortable margin.
The result sees India claiming the series honours with a game to spare. The Proteas will have nothing but pride to play for in the final ODI at Centurion on Friday.
One could be critical of India and the way they went about their innings in the latter stages. Poor running between the wickets as well as a patent lack of urgency at the death cost them between 30 and 40 runs. Sharma made the biggest contribution of 115, but ran out Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at an important stage.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Sharma fires at last
The Proteas bowled well to limit India to 55 runs in the final 10 overs. Lungi Ngidi finished with career-best figures of 4-51.
And yet, one can safely say that India were the superior side on the day. Every time the Proteas attempted to take control of the contest, India responded by reasserting their dominance.
Aiden Markram, JP Duminy, and then AB de Villiers departed in relatively quick succession. At 65-3, a Proteas side with a long tail was always going to be hard-pressed to chase down 275.
Hashim Amla and David Miller clubbed together for a partnership of 62 runs. The latter lost his wicket when he attempted to charge Yuzvendra Chahal and was clean bowled. Amla pushed on to score 71, but erred when he took on Hardik Pandya’s arm and was run-out.
Heinrich Klaasen ran out of partners towards the end. The lower-order batsmen were forced to take chances, with the asking rate at around nine runs per over.
Kuldeep Yadav benefited as a result. The wrist-spinner finished with 4-57.
It’s hard to see the Proteas turning things around before Friday. Based on the performances of both teams on Tuesday, India could well go on to make it 5-1.
India 274-7 (50 overs) – Rohit Sharma 115, Virat Kohli 36, Lungi Ngidi 4-51
South Africa 201 (42.2 overs) – Hashim Amla 71, Heinrich Klaasen 39, Kuldeep Yadav 4-57, Hardik Pandya 2-30
India won by 73 runs and lead the series 4-1
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix