Dhawan's inning was prematurely brought to an end amid a forced run by Kohli at the other end. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Not many would have expected this. The ease with which India dismantled South Africa in the first ODI of the 6-match series was pretty exhilarating to watch. And Virat Kohli has once again proven why he is the king of ODI cricket at present. His 33rd ODI century, along with Ajinkya Rahane’s sparkling fifty, helped India achieve a thumping 6-wicket win over the visitors in Durban last night. Given that this was the No. 1 ODI side in the world who were on a 17-match unbeaten streak a home, India’s victory is significant.
In the past, Indian teams have generally not begun well on tours to South Africa and, eventually, have had to play catch up throughout the series. With this win, India now has a rare chance to set the tone of remaining matches.
This win also showed how disciplined a team India has become in the ODI cricket. They do not care about the venue or the opposition. They have a varied and strong bowling attack; they back their strength of chasing, and have got all bases covered.
A majestic chase
An impressive show with the ball, especially by the spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal restricted South Africa to a respectable score of 269-8 with captain Faf du Plessis’s excellent 120 being the home’s team’s sole shining light.
India stumbled in the chase after losing both their openers with the score on 67. Another wicket there and the game would have opened up. However, captain Kohli and the newly instated Ajinkya Rahane at No.4 went on stitch a match-winning 189-run partnership for the 4th wicket to take the game away from South Africa.
The South African quicks – Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada – were bowling consistently over 145 km/h, but both Kohli and Rahane played maturely. They got themselves in and ran well between the wickets. And as the ball became softer they began attacking with great authority. It was a beautiful display of batsmanship as both Kohli and Rahane unfurled an array of glittering strokes to please the crowd at the stadium.
No matter what bowling combination South Africa tried, Kohli and Rahane were equal to it and counter-attacked splendidly. Rahane’s innings – 79 off 86 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes – was special and needed for the Indian ODI team at present. The No.4 position has been causing India a lot of headaches recently and with Rahane’s mature and classy knock, they can breathe easy for a while.
Kohli was majestic through and through. It was another ODI master class in a chase by the star batsman and the way he paved his innings was a treat to watch. To put things in perspective, this was Kohli’s 20th ODI hundred in a chase and shows how dominant a batsman he is for India. Also, with this century, Kohli has played in nine countries, all full-members, and has scored a century in all of them. Clearly, at the rate he is progressing, Kohli would have created some unbeatable records by the time he is done.
By the time he was dismissed for a glorious 112 off 119 balls with 10 fours, India was well on their way to victory and eventually chased the target down with about five overs to spare.
It remains to be seen how Team India progresses in the remaining matches, but they have certainly made a bold statement that they will not be pushovers and South Africa have a task on their hands now.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)