India dominate to clinch series

Kuldeep Yadav

Port Elizabeth: The Indian team, led by an inspirational Virat Kohli on Tuesday scripted history by winning their first-ever ODI series on the South African soil as they crushed South Africa by 73 runs, thereby taking an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match ODI series.

No Indian men's side since their first tour to South Africa back in 1992 have ever won an ODI series or a Test series. They did win a one-off T20 match in 2006 though.

"Very pleased, another complete performance from us. Only one team had the pressure of losing this series and we knew that. It's history and the guys have worked hard for it.

"Every since the third Test in Johannesburg, it's been a good time for us. It's been a collective effort to create history," an ecstatic Kohli said after the match.

After a series of low scores, Rohit Sharma came good when it ultimately mattered as he scored 115 in India's respectable total of 274 for seven on a sluggish St George's Park wicket.

South Africa did put up a fight before wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/57 in 10 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43 in 9.2 overs) found their bearings after a rare off-day to polish off the lower-order in a jiffy as the home team were shot out for 201 in 42.2 overs.

One can't ignore Hardik Pandya's contribution as his all-round skill sets came into good effect. He got two wickets and then affected a run-out with a direct throw, removing an in-form Hashim Amla (71). That decisively swung the match in India's favour.

For Kohli, this is a significant milestone in his three-and-a-half years at the helm as this is also his first series win against a top nation away from home.

While this wasn't the best South African team on the field, credit must be given to India for coming back after losing the Test series.

The two wrist spinners once again proved to be a revelation as none save Amla could read them properly.

Earlier, Rohit ended his prolonged bad patch with a fine hundred as India scored a respectable total after being put into bat. Despite Rohit's 115 off 126 balls, India failed to consolidate during the final 10 overs as they scored only 55 runs after being comfortably placed at 219 for four.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni managed only 13 off 17 balls. It was Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 19 off 20 balls that took India past 270-run mark.

The highlight of the Indian innings was Rohit's century - which is his 17th overall and 15th as an opener.

He is now third behind Sachin Tendulkar (45 out of 49) and Sourav Ganguly (19 out of 22) with number of centuries as opener.

After being criticised for his poor show in the series till date and a pitiable average of 11.45 in 12 ODIs (in SA) with a highest score of only 23, Rohit finally played an innings of substance that had 11 boundaries and four sixes.

He was shaky at times but the customary elegance was there to be seen as he stepped out to hit Kagiso Rabada over long on for a six.



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