Kohli masterful, India beats SAfrica by 6 wickets in 1st ODI

February 1, 2018
India's Virat Kohli bats during the ODI between South Africa and India at the Kingsmead Stadium Durban, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 1 2018. (AP Photo/Anesh Dikeby)

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Virat Kohli’s masterful 112 maintained India’s winning momentum in South Africa as he led his team to a convincing six-wicket win in the first one-day international on Thursday.

Kohli was the driving force in a 189-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (79) that swept aside South Africa’s bowling and took India cruising to 270-4 and past the target in just 45.3 overs.

South Africa’s total of 269-8 was not huge but was still competitive, especially with India batting second under floodlights in the day-night game at Kingsmead.

Captain Kohli led India to victory with 27 balls to spare, though, keeping India on top after it won the third test last weekend for a consolation victory in that series.

India’s commanding victory in Durban ended top-ranked South Africa’s 17-match winning run in ODIs at home, a streak that included a 5-0 whitewash of Australia.

Kohli’s match-winning innings also overshadowed the feats of his counterpart, Faf du Plessis, who rescued a faltering South African effort with 120 from 112 balls. Du Plessis hit 11 fours and launched two sixes over midwicket, taking the home team out of trouble at 134-5 and to 269-8 in 50 overs.

It wasn’t nearly enough with Kohli, the world’s top-ranked one-day batsman, in exhilarating form.

Kohli hit 10 fours and his 112 came off 119 deliveries. When he reached his 33rd ODI century but first in South Africa with a flashing cover drive for four, he took off his helmet, stood up straight, pointed at his chest and then down at the ground. The message, he said afterward, was that India was here to compete with the No. 1 ODI team after losing the test contest 2-1.

On the evidence of Thursday, India could also claim to be the top 50-over team in the world. And Kohli, with a third century in his last four ODI games, is undoubtedly the format’s best batsman.

On its own winning run of eight straight series, everything came together for India at Kingsmead: Its seam bowlers were on target to keep South Africa in check early, and wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav (3-34) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2-45) worked smoothly in tandem to put a stranglehold on the South Africa batting through the middle overs. India’s own batsmen were unfazed in the chase to win with the third highest second innings total ever at Kingsmead.

Kohli offered one half-chance early on when a diving du Plessis at slip got only fingertips to an edge. The next time Kohli appeared fallible was when he was dropped in the outfield on 108. He finally fell off a top edge, caught by Kagiso Rabada off the bowling of Andile Phehlukwayo (2-42).

Having arrived at 33-1 in the seventh over, Kohli departed with India just eight runs from victory.

India’s two wrist spinners did the damage with the ball, taking five of the eight South Africa wickets to fall.

Pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah made the first breakthrough to trap Hashim Amla lbw for 16 in the eighth over, but it was all the slow bowlers after that.

Chahal removed the out-of-form Quinton de Kock (34) and Aiden Markram (9).

Kuldeep reeled off the next three wickets, deceiving JP Duminy with a ball that spun the other way and bowled him, removing the dangerous David Miller, and dismissing Chris Morris to end a 74-run stand with du Plessis.

Despite du Plessis’ best efforts, South Africa never fully recovered from 134-5 and then 208-6 with Morris’ fall.

India trails South Africa by just one rating point in the ODI rankings so can go to No. 1 if it wins the series. That would make it No. 1 in both tests and one-dayers.

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