SAvIND, 5th ODI | Match Report: Rohit Sharma powers India to maiden series win in South Africa

Rohit Sharma in action during 2nd ODI match against Sri Lanka Played at IS Bindra PCA stadium in Mohali on Wednesday, 13 December 2017. Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh
Rohit Sharma in action during 2nd ODI match against Sri Lanka Played at IS Bindra PCA stadium in Mohali on Wednesday, 13 December 2017. Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh

Virat Kohli’s men created history by handing India its first ever ODI series victory in South Africa. Coming into Tuesday’s clash with a 3-1 lead in the six-match series, the visitors won by 73 runs to claim the series.

The win was achieved on the back of healthy contributions from the likes of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav.

Set a target of 275 at the St. Georges Park in Port Elizabeth, the hosts were bowled out for 201, with chinaman Kuldeep claiming four wickets. For the Proteas, Hshim Amla (71) and Heinrich Klaasen (39) played fighting knocks but got little help in the chase from their team-mates.

Pandya, though, took the vital wickets of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy. Bumrah too was brilliant, giving away just 22 runs from his seven overs with a wicket to go with it.

Earlier, India got to 274/7 on the back of a Rohit Sharma century. Put in to bat, openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a flying start at the St. Georges Park in Port Elizabeth. Dhawan, however, fell after a quick-fire 34 to Kagiso Rabada.

Rohit then stitched what looked like an ominous partnership with skipper Virat Kohli. But just as the duo looked set to march India to a score near 350, Virat was run-out after yet another mix-up with Rohit.

Ajinkya Rahane, batting at No.4, was run-out too. Complete miscommunication between the Mumbaikars on that occasion. From a position of strength, the Men In Blue found themselves in a spot of bother within a few overs.

Rohit, though, kept calm and went on t bring up his 17th ODI hundred.  The right-hander brought up his milestone off the 107th delivery he faced. He’d smashed 10 fours and four trademark maximums at that point.

This was a much-needed knock for Rohit. The Mumbaikar has had a horror tour so far, failing in the two Tests and four ODIs he had played before this. His effort in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday gave India a fighting chance of clinching their first ODI series in South Africa.

For the Proteas, Lungi Ngidi was the pick of the bowlers. After making an impressive international debut in the Test series last month, the tall right-arm fast-bowler continued his good form with returns of four for 51 from his nine overs.

South Africa won the toss and asked India to bat first in the penultimate fifth ODI of the six-match series. Following the toss, Indian skipper Kohli said that they too would have opted to bowl first had they won the toss, adding that they would try to restrict South Africa to a low total.

“We wanted to bowl first as well. Restrict them a total that we could chase down. The whole idea was to bowl at them for 50 overs with our wristspinners, who can exploit any conditions. Nevertheless, it will be a good wicket to play on throughout,” Kohli said.

Meanwhile, Aiden Markram, the stand-in skipper in the absence of injured regular South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis, said, ‘Pretty clear on what we want to do. We’ve heard that it’s skidding on under lights and that’s the reason we want to chase.’

As far as Playing XI is concern, India are going with the same squad that slump to a five-wicket defeat at the hands of the home side in the fourth ODI in Johannesburg.  South Africa, on the other hand, have made two changes. Tabraiz Shamsi has been brought in to replace Chris Morris, who has been suffering from a stiff back.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir has been left out while Tabraiz Shamsi has been roped in the squad.  Heading into the match, the Kohli-led side will look to learn from their mistake in the last tie and wrap up the six-match series. A victory in Port Elizabeth will ensure them their maiden ODI series triumph on the South African soil.

The hosts, meanwhile, are boosting with confidence following the victory in Johannesburg and that they will now look to build on the positives as they have an opportunity to end the six-match series on an even note.

Playing XIs

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram (capt), JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi.