The hosts faltered against wristspin again and conceded the series to India after suffering a 73-run loss
India 274 for 7 (Rohit 115, Ngidi 4-51) beat South Africa 201 (Amla 71, Kuldeep 4-57) by 73 runs
India have won their first bilateral series in South Africa across any format bar a one-off T20, with victory in the fifth ODI in Port Elizabeth. Their success in the series has been fashioned by their wristspinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who have taken 30 out of the 43 South African wickets to fall in five matches, at an average of 13.63.
Chahal and Kuldeep shared six wickets between them at St George’s Park, where India defended a below-par total in a messy effort in the field that still managed to force a South African collapse. The hosts lost 6 for 31 to crash from 166 for 4 in the 35th over to being bowled out inside 43 overs and only have a win in a rain-shortened match in Johannesburg to show for their efforts.
India, on the other hand, have plenty to celebrate including the form of Rohit Sharma. After Virat Kohli in the first and third ODIs and Shikhar Dhawan in the fourth, finally Rohit, who did not manage a half-century in eight innings on this tour or over 20 in the ODIs, raised his bat to a hundred. But his innings was not without its drama.
Rohit witnessed two run-outs at the other end, including that of Kohli, survived a review, was dropped on 96 and then his dismissal sparked a mini-collapse in which India lost four wickets for 29 to finish with 274 for 7. India only scored 78 runs in the last 15 overs and South Africa would have fancied their chances,
The early battle lines were drawn between Kagiso Rabada and Shikhar Dhawan with the former ramping up his pace to 150kph and the latter dealing in boundaries. Dhawan scored all but two of his 34 runs in fours and took five of them off Rabada, who gave him an animated send-off.
At the other end, Rohit could have just been content with keeping Rabada at bay, given that Rabada had dismissed him in six out of eight innings on this tour. But Rohit was not merely content. He launched Rabada over long-on to show early intent and went on to take on the short balls, which Lungi Ngidi offered generously in his opening spell.
JP Duminy and Tabraiz Shamsi bowled in tandem for eight overs but their attempts to create pressure were stymied by the penchant for boundary balls. They conceded 49 runs in that time and it was only some quick work in the field that slowed India down.
Ultimately, Duminy removed Kohli but not in the way he would have imagined. Rohit tapped a Morkel delivery off the back foot and refused a run but Kohli was already on his way. Duminy had enough time to collect the ball from point and underarm it directly onto the stumps.
Kohli’s dismissal quietened Rohit and India only scored 23 runs off the next 38 balls before Ajinkya Rahane was run-out. He was left stranded after tapping the ball to Morkel at mid-on; Rohit once again was not keen on the quick single.
If India were aiming for 300, Rohit needed to rebuild with the middle and lower order but getting his own milestone appeared to be the first mission and South Africa seemed determined to deny him. They appealed for caught behind when Rohit pulled Andile Phehlukwayo on 90 and reviewed the umpire’s call of not out but replays showed the ball had hit the thigh pad. On 96, Rohit ramped and offered a straightforward catch to Shamsi, who could not hold on. Rohit’s hundred eventually came up off 107 balls at the end of the 36th over, giving him enough time to make it really count.
But he could not. Instead, there was almost another run-out, that of Shreyas Iyer, some tentative nudging and nurdling and then Rohit was undone by extra bounce from Ngidi and caught behind. Hardik Pandya bottom-edged the next ball to Heinrich Klaasen and Iyer top-edged Ngidi to the wicketkeeper as well. India lost three wickets for two runs in 13 balls and needed MS Dhoni to finish off but as has been the case throughout the series, he could not get going.
The opposite was true for Hashim Amla, who made his first score of significance in the ODI series and kept South Africa in the game until he too, was run-out. Amla’s intent was obvious from the third ball when he slashed Bhuvneshwar Kumar past backward point for four.
Iyer, whose memory of dropping David Miller at the Wanderers must be fresh, put down Aiden Markram at extra cover. Markram was on 9 when he drilled the drive to Iyer and started to play as though he would make India pay but not for too long. He was caught at midwicket two balls before the end of the Powerplay.
India almost had another wicket off the next ball but Duminy’s inside edge fell just short of Dhoni. Exactly six balls later, Duminy edged Pandya to slip but Pandya’s bigger contributions were yet to come. In his next over, he had AB de Villiers caught behind and South Africa were reduced to 65 for 3.
Amla had David Miller to keep the required run rate in check and the pair accumulated steadily. They shared a 62-run fourth-wicket stand and tried to rotate strike against India’s wristspinners. Miller survived an lbw review off Chahal, hit him for six and on the hand but Chahal also produced some deliveries Miller knew nothing about. He was eventually bowled by one such ball, which meandered towards him with the pace of a Port Elizabeth day (read ‘slow’) and crashed into his stumps.
By then, Amla had been let off on 38, by Rahane at short point off Pandya, and India were already racking up what-should-have-beens which would only have grown longer as Amla batted on. His first fifty of the series came off 72 balls. With Klaasen at the other end, despite the climbing run rate, South Africa would have been confident that they could accelerate with wickets in hand.
It was only when Amla was run-out, by the smallest of margins when he failed to get any part of his bat over the line after setting off for a hasty single off Bhuvneshwar, that the task began to look too tough. Pandya was the fielder and his direct hit of the non-striker’s stumps sent South Africa into freefall. The next five wickets fell in 47 balls, all to wristspin and three in four balls in Kuldeep’s last over.