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Virat Kohli ton sees India register dominant win in final ODI vs South Africa

Virat Kohli scored his 35th ODI century as India won the final ODI vs South Africa at Centurion by eight wickets today, thus sealing a 5-1 series victory.

cricket Updated: Feb 16, 2018 23:20 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Centurion
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,South African cricket team
Indian batsman captain Virat Kohli in action during the sixth ODI cricket match between South Africa and India in Centurion, South Africa on Friday. (AP)

Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli went for the kill in dead rubber with a full strength team as the song, a dirge in reality, remained the same for South African batsmen. . (HIGHLIGHTS)

After sealing the series in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, Kohli had said that he could bring in a few fresh faces but at the same time insisted that winning the series in a thumping way would be a priority. (SCORECARD)

Any other captain would have used this opportunity to blood in a few youngsters, but the India skipper faced such a torrid time, and criticism, in the first half of the series that he probably thought a great score-line in ODIs would bury the loss in the Test series.

They brought in Shardul Thakur in place of out-of-form Bhuvneswar Kumar for the only change while the hosts went in with four changes.

The hosts duly obliged, helping his cause as their batting folded once again showing neither guts nor gumption on a wicket that was very good for batting. They folded for 204 in the 47th over and in reply India cruised along despite losing Rohit Sharma early once again.

The India skipper, at the time of going into print, was on 99 (88 balls) and had become the first batsman ever to score 500 runs in a bilateral series. India were 160/2 after 26 overs. With Friday’s knock, Kohli went past teammate Rohit Sharma for most runs in a bilateral series. Rohit had scored 491 against Australia in 2013-14.

While the South African batsmen struggled, with only Khaya Zondo showing patience, composure and willingness, Kohli simply blazed through.

Kohli had scored two centuries in the series ahead of this game, 112 not out at Durban in the first match and 160 not out at Cape Town in the third match.

Although the India skipper had been fortunate on a few occasions, with catches getting missed and a couple of umpiring decisions going his way, there has been no doubt that he has looked unbeatable.

While the Proteas got him run out once they failed to topple him on two occasions --- three if you include that he was still unbeaten in the last game at the time of going into print.

The India skipper who had been targeted with short deliveries in Test matches and also in the earlier part of this series, took the Proteas bowlers on Friday head on, hammering their short deliveries.

He managed to get on top of the bounce and keep them on the ground as the South African bowlers, all hit-the-deck-kind, struggled to ruffle him.

In fact, while Cape Town was an example of stamina and daring, Friday’s knock was about his skills and aggression against the short-pitched ball.

Earlier though, South Africa wasted a good start. With AB de Villiers and Khaya Zondo adding 62 in about 11 overs, it looked like they’ll put up a decent fight. But once De Villiers was out, misjudging the pace to Chahal delivery, the batting caved in.

Perhaps it was the fear of spinners that led them to give three of the top five wickets to medium-pacer Shardul Thakur while trying to attack him. And if it was, it showed how psyched they’ve been. More than skills, they’ve been found short on mind.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 16:33 IST