Despite going down 2-1 in the test series, India seemed like a rejuvenated and confident side after defeating the hosts comprehensively by 63 runs in the final test match. The post-match celebrations showed what the win meant to the Indians, who previously, were discarded from the outset every time they toured outside Asia, compared to the present, where they were actually considered favourites to take home the series and would largely have themselves to blame for falling short. Could Virat Kohli and his men stun the hosts on their home turf? Or would the Proteas continue their unbeaten winning streak at home in ODIs?
1st ODI, Durban – The Chase Master is at it, again!
Not often do we see a century constructed with such patience and skill, as Faf du Plessis’, end up in a losing cause. Such was the brilliance of Indian captain Virat Kohli, who once again proved why he is considered the best limited overs batsman of his generation, if not of all time. After getting off to a decent start with the bat, the South Africans crumbled to the spin twins, Chahal and Kuldeep, reeling at 134-5. There is a general belief that the way you handle pressure and react in the most difficult of times defines your character. Up stood Faf du Plessis, holding the innings together and paving his way to a gritty yet magnificent 120, setting a reasonably stiff target of 270. Unfortunately for the Proteas, there is no other like Virat Kohli when it comes to chasing a target. Give him a bat, tell him he has to chase a target and watch him go. He was ably supported by Rahane (79) as he stroked his way to yet another masterful century in a run chase, thereby helping India take a 1-0 lead to Centurion.
2nd ODI, Centurion – Chahal, Kuldeep spin India to a massive victory
Aiden Markram, playing just his 3rd One day International, was announced as the stand in captain in place of the injured Faf du Plessis, in what proved to be a hammer blow to the Proteas. His career as a captain got off to the worst possible start, with it being at his home ground making it even more forgetful. Following a quiet start after being put into bat first, the hosts crumbled and how. Their first 4 wickets fell in the space of 12 runs and their next 6 in the space of 19 runs, with a short period of rebuilding in between, eventually bundling out for a paltry 118 inside 33 overs. The score, as one would predict, did not seem too much of a task for the Indians to chase, as they closed the game in just over 20 overs, thereby taking a 2-0 lead and a giant dominant stride towards clinching the series. It was not just the defeat but the manner of the defeat that will haunt the hosts, as this was one of their most appalling batting performances in home conditions. It would definitely have been a herculean task to come back in the series and get anything out of it from here on out.
3rd ODI, Cape Town – The Run Machine and wrist-spinners crush the Proteas
Being an avid cricket fan and a part-time blogger (that’s what I like to call myself!), it gets monotonous when one player becomes the crux of every blog you write. That is exactly what Virat Kohli has become to me now! Yes, I am a Kohli fan. Yes, I love to see him score big runs. Yes, I love to see him play those exquisite cover drives and follow them up with lightning quick 1s and 2s. But the fact that he does this on such a consistent basis, with so much ease, is beyond imagination and makes you wonder if he is human after all. After being reduced to 0-1 at the end of the first over, in walked Virat and along with Shikhar, turned the match in India’s favour. Despite cramping up in the 90s, he went on to score an unbeaten 160, which speaks a lot about the kind of grit and determination this man is made of. A target of 304 was always going to be difficult for the inexperienced South African line up. And it proved to be so, as the spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep once again weaved their magic, bowling out the Proteas for 179 and taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the one day series.
4th ODI, Johannesburg – Miller, Klaasen step up to keep the series alive
In what turned out to be a thrilling game, the Proteas finally registered a win to keep their hopes alive, as they chased down 202 in just 28 overs, on a day when lightning and rain resulted in a curtailed game at the Wanderers. For the longest time, India seemed the more dominant team, courtesy a blazing 109 by Dhawan and a fluid 75 by the ever-consistent Virat Kohli. Chasing 289 was always going to be a task, but the Proteas were given a helping hand by the rain, which reduced their target to 202. It was under this pressure of keeping the series alive that Miller and Klaasen took to the Indian bowlers and smashed them to all parts of the park. An unbeaten 43 off 27 balls by Klaasen, along with an equally destructive 39 from Miller was enough to take the Proteas home and keep the series alive at 3-1.
5th ODI, Port Elizabeth – Hitman discovers form (finally!) as India seal the series
When someone as talented and skillful as Rohit Sharma fails to score runs on a consistent basis, one begins to wonder why. But when he is in the kind of form he was in at Port Elizabeth, he leaves you speechless. In what would definitely rank as one of his best ODI centuries, considering he held the innings together for most parts, Rohit Sharma stroked his way to a much-needed century. But this was not without drama, as he witnessed the run-outs of Kohli and Rahane at the other and was dropped at 96. After his dismissal, India lost 4 wickets for 29 to finish at 274 which again, proved to be a herculean task for the Proteas, who yet again succumbed to the wrist spin of Kuldeep and Chahal. India wrapped up the match in style, defeating South Africa by 73 runs, thereby registering their first ever bilateral ODI series win in South Africa.
6th ODI, Centurion – Kohli registered 35th ODI ton as India thump the South Africans
The bowlers setting up the victory, the Proteas going down without a fight and yet another Virat Kohli masterclass – this had been the pattern in the previous 5 ODIs and continued to be the same as India crushed the Proteas by 8 wickets to win the series 5-1, with Shardul Thakur ripping through the South African batting line up. After India won the toss and put the hosts in to bat first, South Africa were going strong at 105-2. However, a mini collapse saw them lose 5 wickets for 46 runs, which turned into yet another major collapse as they eventually bundled out for a paltry 204. Despite getting Rohit Sharma out early, the Proteas encountered the ‘Run Machine’ as Virat smashed his way to an astonishing 35th century in just 208 ODIs, thereby taking India home to a comfortable win.
Most Runs – Virat Kohli 558 runs at average of 186
Most Wickets – Kuldeep Yadav 17 wickets at average of 13.88
Man of the series – Virat Kohli
Fifth Umpire Champion of the series- Shikhar Dhawan 323 runs at average of 186 and Kuldeep Yadav
Not often do you see a team as strong and dominant as South Africa get ripped apart at home, as you would have in the ODI series. A 17-match unbeaten home streak in ODIs was brought to an end, and how! Agreed, they missed a couple of key players and were not full strength, but the manner of the defeat will hurt the Proteas more than the series defeat itself. Despite them missing Faf, AB De Villiers and eventually de Kock, the fact that they surrendered so meekly at home is definitely a cause for concern. There aren’t many positives to take from this series for the South Africans, barring the emergence of Lungi Ngidi and Klaasen. They will have a lot to ponder upon once the T20 series is concluded.
India, on the other hand, showed the rest of the cricketing world why they are a force to not reckon with. Starting from the last test match up until the last ODI, they were relentless, with the captain leading from the front. Virat’s form shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as this is what people have come to expect of him. What has been pleasing to watch has been the form of Kuldeep and Chahal, who have picked wickets on a consistent basis, while giving away too few runs. But special mention has to go to Virat Kohli, whose form has been absolutely magical throughout this tour. Ending the ODI series with a mind-boggling 558 runs in 6 matches, with an average of 186, he became the batsman to score the most number of runs in a bilateral ODI series. Since January 2016, Kohli has the most ODI runs and the most ODI 100s. These are just 2 records out of the innumerable he has achieved and many more that he is destined to achieve, which makes it harder not to make the review about a man who continues to redefine batting and make it look so easy, and is on his way to becoming one of the best batsmen ever to play the sport.
Onto the T20 series, where the Proteas will be expected to come hard at the Indians!