Morne Morkel bowled South Africa to a 18-run victory in the third ODI against India, claiming 4-39 as they took a 2-1 lead in the series on Sunday.
It was an outstanding performance from the fast bowler, turning a game they should have lost. After scoring a below par 270-7, it was clear South Africa would need to bowl very well to win this game. But India, who were cruising for the biggest part of their chase, suffered a similar batting collapse.
India were comfortable on 193-2 with eight overs to go, but they lost MS Dhoni (47), Suresh Raina (0), Virat Kohli (77) and Ajinkya Rahane (4), the latter two off consecutive balls from Morkel, to lose the plot and the match.
Kohli was involved in two crucial partnerships, first with Rohit Sharma (72) and then with Dhoni (80), but India needed Kohli or Dhoni to bat out the innings.
India finished on 252-6, well short of South Africa’s target which proved to be enough, even though the feeling was that it was about 30 runs short of a competitive total.
The Proteas produced a below-par performance in the field, dropping a few catches and also missing a few half-chances. In the end it didn’t cost them the game, but they will have to be sharper.
Quinton de Kock scored a beautiful hundred after AB de Villiers won a good toss and batted first.
But South Africa managed only 60 runs in the last 10 overs after cruising on 210-3 after 40 overs.
Three wickets fell in the space of nine overs, which seriously dented South Africa’s onslaught in the final 10 overs. It started when Faf du Plessis shuffled across off-stump, lost his balance and toppled over. He skewered it in the air, popping a catch to short third man running back, for a well-played 60 off 63 balls.
De Kock, who finally managed to build on a good start by converting it into a wonderful 103 off 118 deliveries, followed seven balls later when he was run out, reacting too late to a call from AB de Villiers.
The opener had been battling fatigue and cramps in the latter part of his innings and didn’t have the legs to scramble over in time.
A beautiful platform had been set for De Villiers who came in at N0 5, but he was trapped lbw for four trying to hit through the off-side. It was a massive blow for the visitors and broke all the momentum they had build so patiently throughout the innings.
On 210-5, it was up to JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien to take advantage of the final 10 overs, but they never quite got going as Duminy fell for 14 with 20 deliveries left.