Rohit, Bowlers guide India to first-ever series win in SA
By Krunal Gandhi, MyCricketHighlights Writer
5th ODI: South Africa vs India at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, Feb 13 - 2018, Cricket highlights
After the hammering they received in the last match, India’s bowlers were back in business as they defended 274 to help their team win the fifth and the decisive ODI by 73 runs. The win was a historic one for the Indian team as they secured their first-ever ODI series win on the South African soil. It was also their 9th successive ODI series win – second most by any team in the history of the game. They now lead the series 4-1 with a match to go.
Rohit Sharma, who had a poor tour so far, returned to form with a fine 115. When he was batting, India looked well set to post a total in excess of 300, but some brilliant bowling by Lungi Ngidi and the slow nature of the surface restricted them to just 274. The total, however, proved more than enough for the Indian bowlers to defend and with the help of a combined bowling effort, they bundled South Africa out for 201.
While the wickets column might show Kuldeep Yadav as the pick of the bowlers, but in reality, it was Hardik Pandya, who turned the match in India's favour. First, he picked up the important wickets of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, and then, inflicted the run-out of a well-set Hashim Amla (71) at a crucial juncture in the match.
After being put into bat, India once again were in a solid position at the end of 25 overs, having scored 150 runs for the loss of just one wicket. As usual, Virat Kohli was out in the middle, but his batting partner from previous two games had changed. It was Rohit Sharma, who had put the demons of a poor tour behind, and raced away to a run-a-ball 75. Just when their partnership had surpassed the 100-run mark, the unfortunate thing happened – Kohli (36) was run-out because of a poor miscommunication between the two batters.
The wicket helped the Proteas to pull things back a bit as they were able to slip in some quiet overs. With 20 overs more to go in the innings, India needed Rohit and Rahane to build another partnership and lay the platform for the power-hitters. However, the two couldn’t add more than 23 runs as another run-out resulted in the dismissal of Rahane.
Rohit, involved in two run-outs, now had the extra responsibility of batting through the innings. Fortunately for India and Rohit, luck was on his side as he was dropped by Tabraiz Shamsi on 96. This allowed him to bring up his first ODI hundred in South Africa (17th overall).
After reaching the milestone, one expected Rohit to open up and start playing a few big shots. But with the ball getting softer and the pitch getting slower, it was difficult to time the ball even for the centurion. Shreyas Iyer (30) also struggled to find his timing right and as a result, the runs only came in singles for the Indians.
At the end of 42 overs, India’s scoreboard read 236 for 3 and in a span of three overs, it changed to 240 for 6. It was the triple-strike by Lungi Ngidi, which pushed India on the back foot as he removed both the set batsmen along with Hardik Pandya. The last five overs yielded only 34 runs as India finished with a total of 274 on the board – at least 20-30 runs short to their liking.
South Africa needed a solid start to their chase and they got one from their openers, who added 52 runs for the first wicket. Aiden Markram had raced away to 32 in just 30 balls, but his innings was scratchy right from the start. He looked to force his shots against both the Indian seamers and was finally out on the bowling of Bumrah.
Hardik Pandya then provided India with two major breakthroughs in his two overs. First, he got Duminy caught in the slips and then picked up the priceless wicket of ABD in his next. The Proteas were in all sorts of trouble at this stage and desperately needed a partnership to get out of the hole.
The pair of Hashim Amla and David Miller came to their rescue as they resurrected the innings with a 62-run partnership. While Amla played the anchor’s role and nudged the spinners around for singles, Miller took the odd risk and tried to put the pressure back on the spinners. However, he still struggled to read them and played a completely false shot on the bowling of Chahal to get himself bowled.
The dismissal of Miller brought last match’s hero Heinrich Klaasen out in the middle. Amla and Klaasen got another partnership going, with the former started to play a few more shots after reaching his fifty. Amla stood like a wall between India and victory and till the time he was there, the chances of South Africa chasing down the target were bright. But the Mighty Hash did one small mistake and that was to take on Hardik Pandya’s arm while going for a quick single. Pandya already had him run-out with a direct-hit in the second Test and this time also, the result was the same.
Phelukwayo was cleaned up by Kuldeep in the very next over and the Proteas were now left with only one recognized batsman, in Klaasen. The wicket-keeper had to play one hell of an innings, if the hosts needed to pull off a victory from this point. He did smash a few lusty blows in the chinaman’s next over, but that was it.
In his last over, Kuldeep came back strongly and struck thrice to rattle the lower-order. Rabada, Klaasen, Shamsi, all were back in the hut as South Africa were reduced to 197 for 9. By picking up these wickets, Kuldeep also broke the record of the great Muttiah Muralitharan for picking up the most number of wickets in a bilateral series in SA. The chinaman bowler has 16 wickets to his name so far. In the very next over, Chahal trapped Morne Morkel plumb in front and secured a 73-run win for his team.