It has been an intriguing contest so far in the currently ongoing India South Africa ODI series. There was a pattern in the first two matches at Kanpur and Indore. Then India couldn’t chase 271 at Rajkot in the third match and finally in the fourth ODI, Virat Kohli’s century ensured a challenging total, which South Africa failed to chase despite a valiant effort by captain AB de Villiers. The teams travel to Mumbai for the final ODI on October 25, 2015 and that match will decide the ODI series winner.
The first two games in the India-South Africa ODI series were unique and nearly identical. In the first ODI at Kanpur, batting first South Africa were 197/4 in the 41st over, when AB de Villiers took charge and single-handedly carried the team score to 303/5 with a 73-ball unbeaten 104 that contained 5 fours and 6 sixes. India began well with Rohit Sharma leading the chase with a hard-hitting 150 in 133 balls. But once he got out in the 47th over with India requiring 35 in 23 balls, the other batsmen choked in the chase and India lost the match by 5 runs. Tables were turned in the second ODI at Indore in almost the same fashion, when India captain MS Dhoni did what de Villiers had done at Kanpur. Batting first, India tottered at 124/6 in the 30th over. Then Dhoni took charge and remained unbeaten on 92 off 86 balls with 7 fours and 4 sixes in a not too challenging 247/9. Chasing 248 for victory, South Africa lost early wickets but Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy carried the score to 134 in the 24th over. But once these two batsmen fell, India’s bowlers applied pressure and India emerged victorious by 22 runs.
In Rajkot’s third ODI, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, du Plessis and Behardien helped South Africa pile up 270/7. Once again India had a solid start and they reached 113/2, when Rohit Sharma got out. Afterwards, in a display of awfully slow batting Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni could only add 93 in the next 20 overs and the game went South Africa’s way. Dhoni took 61 balls for his 47 runs while Kohli consumed 99 for 77. With Morne Morkel taking 4 wickets, India lost by 18 runs in the end.
In the fourth ODI at Chennai on October 22, once again the team batting first won the match. MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first. Although Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were taken early, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane played admirably to add 104 for the third wicket before Rahane fell. But Kohli and Suresh Raina added another 127 for the fourth wicket. Virat Kohli scored his first ODI century after 13 innings since the 2015 World Cup and also the first against South Africa. His 138 off 140 balls was an authoritative knock after a long while. India ended at 299/8 and set a winning target of 300 for South Africa.
On Chennai’s slow surface, India’s three spinners made life difficult for the top order South African batmen. After Mohit Sharma removed Hashim Amla, Harbhajan Singh accounted for de Kock and David Miller while Axar Patel took du Plessis’ wicket. Though, South Africa wobbled at 88/4 in the 18th over, AB de Villiers was still there and stroking well. He added 56 with Farhan Behardien for the fifth wicket. India’s third spinner Amit Mishra got rid of Behardien but de Villiers and Chris Morris added 41 runs for the sixth wicket. Like a lone ranger, de Villiers kept South Africa’s hopes alive despite losing partners on the other end. The skipper was the seventh South African wicket to fall at 233 in the 45th over after a heroic 112 off 107 balls. Once ABDV was taken out, it was only a matter of time since the tail didn’t offer much except reducing the margin of defeat. In the end, South Africa fell 35 runs short of India’s total. The result meant that Mumbai’s fifth ODI next Sunday would decide the Series winner.