Centurion : Riding on an attacking century by skipper Virat Kohli (129 no), India made short work of the target of 205 given by South Africa in the sixth and final ODI at the Supersport Park here on Friday. Kohli, who is in sublime form, single-handedly scripted India’s victory and pocketed the series 5-1.
India crossed the winning line with plenty (8 wickets, 17.5 overs) to spare. Kohli’s 35th ODI century was more than enough as the other batsmen (Rohit 15, Shikhar 18 and Ajinkya Rahane 34 no) had little to do. Virat, meanwhile, showcased once again, why he is considered among the best batsmen while chasing.
Earlier, Zondo top-scored for the Proteas with a 74-ball 54, laced with three boundaries and two sixes on a good batting track, where most of the other batsmen failed against rookie pacer Shardul Thakur (4/52) and the wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal (2/38) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/51). Jasprit Bumrah also gave good support by taking two wickets.
Asked to bat, the Proteas could hardly recover from the early loss of openers Hashim Amla (10) and skipper Aiden Markram (24) even as No.3 AB de Villiers (30) wasted a start after adding 62 runs for the third wicket with Zondo. Earlier, playing his first match of the series, Mumbai youngster Thakur was on fire in his first five overs, getting rid of Amla, caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and then the key wicket of Markram with a slow off-cutter, caught by Shreyas Iyer at cover.
Chahal soon joined the party, knocking off de Villiers’ leg stick with a flipper to reduce the Proteas to 105/3, before wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klassen (22) joined Zondo for a brief 30-run fourth wicket stand.
Such was the dominance of the Indians that the explosive Klassen failed to find a way to free his arms and when he attempted to drive a slower one from Bumrah, skipper Virat Kohli smartly grabbed a low catch at short cover.
Thakur was then brought back for his next spell and he responded in style by packing back Farhaan Behardien (1) caught by Bumrah at third man.
Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who till now had a silent outing, came to the party with the wicket of Chris Morris (4) as the Proteas stared at yet another batting collapse.
Zondo, by now had reached his maiden ODI fifty with a touch off Kuldeep for a single and sensed the urgency to shift gears, which, however turned fatal for him.
After reaching the milestone, the 27-year-old Zondo lost his concentration and mistimed a tossed up delivery from Chahal only to find Hardik Pandya running in from sweeper cover to complete a regulation catch.
Reduced to 151/7, South Africa lost all hopes of a competitive score with Andile Phehlukwayo (34) and Morne Morkel (20) adding a quick-fire 36-run stand before Pandya packed back Morkel caught by Iyer. The tailenders Imran Tahir (2) and Lungisani Ngidi (0 not out), hardly troubled the scorers even though Phehlukwayo clobbered Thakur for two consecutive sixes to raise South Africa’s 200.
Brief Scores: South Africa 204 (Khaya Zondo 54, Andile Phehlukwayo 34, AB de Villiers 30; Shardul Thakur 4/52, Jasprit Bumrah 2/24, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/38) vs India.