Virat Kohli smashed 112 to steer India to an emphatic six-wicket win against South Africa in the first ODI in Durban.
India were the superior team with the ball, the bat, and in the field over the course of the contest at Kingsmead. The result sees them taking a 1-0 lead in the six-game series and, given the margin of the result, scoring some valuable psychological points ahead of the second clash at Centurion on Sunday.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane dominated a wayward and largely impotent South African attack to rack up 189 runs for the third-wicket – a new India ODI record. The visitors chased down the third-highest ODI score at Kingsmead without breaking too much of a sweat.
The Proteas should be disappointed with their overall performance. The top six failed as a collective, with Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis the only players to score more than 16 and the only specialist batsmen to club together for a partnership of significance (53 runs).
Spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal got the ball to turn and bounce on a slow wicket. De Kock walked after an lbw appeal that should have been reviewed. Aiden Markram, JP Duminy, and David Miller were out-thought and ultimately outplayed by the leg-spinners. The Proteas lost four wickets for 51 runs during that period.
Du Plessis was left to rebuild with only a couple of all-rounders to come. The skipper played with authority and poise over the course of his innings. He needed only 101 balls to reach his century. Thanks to Du Plessis, Chris Morris, and then Andile Phehlukwayo, the Proteas moved from 134-5 after 28 overs to 269-8 after 50.
It wasn’t enough, though. The India openers took the fight to the Proteas from the outset. Rohit Sharma perished after taking Morne Morkel on one time too many. Shikhar Dhawan was looking dangerous before he was run-out by Markram.
The Proteas could have had a third wicket soon after that. Kohli flashed at a quick delivery by Kagiso Rabada, and the ball flew to the slip cordon. Du Plessis did well to get across from his position in the slips, but couldn’t hang on.
From there, the hosts simply had no response. Kohli and Rahane picked off the singles. They smashed the quicks as well as the spinners to the boundary.
The Proteas managed to dismiss both players later in the innings. But by then, the damage was done. Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni knocked off the remaining runs to ensure that India finished with a big win that may well serve as a massive statement.
SA 269-8 (50 overs) – Faf du Plessis 120, Chris Morris 37, Kuldeep Yadav 3-34, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-45
India 270-3 – Virat Kohli 112, Ajinkya Rahane 79, Shikhar Dhawan 35, Morne Morkel 1-35
India won by six wickets
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis (c), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (c.), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix