India won the fourth ODI against South Africa and kept their chances in the series alive with a 35-run win in Chennai on Thursday.
The series is all square at 2-2 with the final game to be played on Sunday. It was a well-deserved win for the home side who posted 299-8 thanks to a superb 138 from Virat Kohli and despite AB de Villiers also scoring a hundred for his team.
It was always going to take a special chase by South Africa to win as they went into the game with just six specialist batsmen after Chris Morris replaced the injured JP Duminy.
In the end only a magnificent 112 from 107 deliveries from De Villiers gave the visitors hope that they could reach the target, but once he departed in the 45th over he took his team’s chances of an unlikely victory with him.
Apart from Quinton de Kock (43), the top order didn’t cover themselves in glory as Hashim Amla failed again for seven and Faf du Plessis, who had scored three fifties in a row in the series so far, was caught behind for 17.
David Miller, back in the middle order, was out lbw for just six and his place in the side is probably under serious threat.
De Villiers played a wonderful innings of stroke-play and innovation but he needed at least one other batsmen to contribute a big score. Looking at the scorecard, that batsman should have been De Kock, who made a great start but couldn’t convert that.
A 48-run partnership towards the end between De Villiers and Aaron Phangiso gave South Africa hope, but they would have needed De Villiers to bat through the innings while also scoring boundaries to keep the asking rate within reach.
Unfortunately for them, it was too much to ask.
Earlier Kohli had given India the control for most of the their innings as he shared two consecutive partnerships of 100-plus, first with Ajinkya Rahane (45) and then with Suresh Raina (53).
South Africa had gone into the match without Duminy and Morne Morkel, both injured, and they were replaced by Morris and Phangiso.
Morris took 1-55 in nine overs and Phangiso claim 0-51 in nine. The standout performers for South Africa was Dale Steyn (3-61) and Kagiso Rabada (3-54) who combined well.
The Proteas managed to take early wickets and had India struggling on 35-2, but after Kohli got going India always looked like scoring a total close to 300 on a slow wicket.
The spinners never troubled the Indian batsmen and they again relied on the fast bowlers to deliver the goods.
De Villiers dropped Raina on 48, but luckily it didn’t cost them much runs.