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 six-match ODI series.
No Indian men’s side since its first tour in South Africa back in 1992, has 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 ever accomplish — win a full fledged series in the Rainbow Nation.
“Very pleased, another complete performance from us. Only one team had the pressure of losing this series and we knew that. It’s history and the guys have worked hard for it. Ever since the third Test in Johannesburg it’s been a good time for us. It’s been a collective effort to create history,” an ecstatic Kohli said after the match.
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 as the home team were shot out for 201 in 42.2 overs
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. While this wasn’t the best South African team on the field but coming back after losing the Test series takes some heart which the ‘Men in Blue’ showed.
The two wrist spinners once again proved to be a revelation as none save Amla could read them properly from their wrists.
(With inputs from PTI)