Cape Town: Indian team led by an inspirational Virat Kohli on Tuesday scripted history by winning its first ever series across formats on the South African soil as they crushed South Africa by 73 runs thereby taking an unassailable 4-1 lead in the five-match ODI series.
Ahead of the 2019 World Cup, India would consider it a good victory, a morale boost and a series that gives them a lot of learn. Dropped catches, shaky fielding at times in the series would give India plenty to think about and work on.
No Indian men’s side since its first tour in South Africa back in 1992, have ever won a series across any format. They did win a one-off T20 match in 2006 — their first ever shortest format but it was a single match event. The team under Kohli achieved which neither among Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or Mahendra Singh Dhioni could achieve — win a full fledged series in the Rainbow Nation.
After a series of low scores, Rohit Sharma came good when it ultimately mattered as he scored 115 in India’s respectable total of 274 for 7 on a sluggish St Georege’s Park wicket. South Africa did put up a fight before wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/57 in 10 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43 in 9.2 overs) found their bearings after a rare off-day to polish off the lower-order in a jiffy.
One can’t ignore Hardik Pandya’s contribution as his all-ropund skill sets came into good effect getting 2 for 30 with seamers and then a run-out with a direct throw off in-form Hashim Amla (71), which decisively swung the match in India’s favour. For Kohli, this is a significant milestone in his three and half years at the helm as this is also his first series win against a top nation on their soil.