February 14, 2018
India secured their maiden bilateral ODI series victory on South African soil on Tuesday. In fact, this was India’s first-ever bilateral series triumph in South Africa in any format.
India defeated South Africa by 73 runs in the fifth ODI at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth to take a 4-1 lead in the six-match series. India’s dominant display throughout the series in South Africa also saw them secure the No. 1 ODI rank.
Rohit Sharma finally came good, scoring his first hundred in South Africa and helped India put a good total of 274/7 from their 50 overs on a slow pitch. The hosts started off well but lost regular wickets and despite some earnest but meek efforts from Hashim Amla and David Miller to provide some resistance, it was the spin twins who wreaked havoc.
The pair shared six-wickets among them and Hardik Pandya made meaningful contribution with the ball after yet another dud with the bat. (Virat Kohli lauds complete performance after historic series win in South Africa)
Before the current tour, India played South Africa in South Africa in four bilateral series and lost all those in 1992, 2006, 2010 and 2013.
Back in 1992/93, Mohammad Azharuddin led an Indian side for the first time to South Africa.
South Africa were the dominant side, walking away as 5-2 victors in the seven-match series. Rahul Dravid, was the next captain to lead another Indian charge in 2006. The result was more skewed in favour of the hosts, as India were humbled to a 4-0 drubbing in the five-match series. Then it was MS Dhoni, who too failed as India were outplayed in the three-match series, 2-0 in 2013. In 2010-11, India put up a better show but still lost the five-match series 2-3.
In fact, this was India’s first bilateral ODI series victory over South Africa since 2010.
Team India haven’t fared any better in Test series played on their turf. South Africa have walked away as winners in 1992 (1-0), 1996 (2-0), 2001 (1-0), 2006 (2-1) and 2013 (1-0) except 2010 when the honours were shared (1-1).
India, led by Virat Kohli, came into the six-match ODI series on the back of a terrific win over South Africa in the third and final Test at Johannesburg. India had lost the first two Tests but a 63-run win in the third gave India the much-needed confidence going into the ODI series.
South Africa were dealt a blow even before the first ball was bowled as their star batsman AB de Villiers was ruled out for the first three ODIs. In the first ODI in Durban, India won by 6 wickets. Kohli scored 112 to cancel out his opposite number — Faf du Plessis’ 120 and help India chase down the target of 270 quite easily.
After the loss in the first ODI, South Africa had to deal with a further jolt. Their top performer from the first ODI and their captain, du Plessis was ruled out of the remainder of the ODI and Twenty20 series. Thereafter in the second ODI, South Africa’s batting order was again found wanting. They were bundled out for a paltry 118 and Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli chased down the target with ease to give India a nine-wicket victory.
The eve of the third ODI brought more bad news for South Africa as Quinton de Kock also found himself joining the injured list and was out of the remainder of the series. India’s wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav had weaved a magical spell around the South African batsmen and nothing seemed to be working for the hosts.
The third ODI was another one-sided affair – India crushed South Africa by 124 runs — after Kohli proved again exactly why he is regarded as the best ODI batsman in contemporary cricket with another commanding hundred.
Wickets off no-balls and dropped chances helped South Africa in the fourth ODI as they won their first match of the series at Wanderers on Saturday. Dhawan’s hundred in his 100th ODI went in vain, as David Miller and Heinrich Klassen secured a five-wicket victory in the fourth ODI to push one foot in the door, making it 3-1 going into the fifth and penultimate ODI in Port Elizabeth.