Durban: Skipper Faf du Plessis’ ninth ODI century helped South Africa recover from a minor collapse to post a competitive 269/8 against India in the opener of the six-match One-day International series at Kingsmead here on Thursday.
Coming in at No.3, du Plessis (120 off 112 balls; 4X11, 6X2) steered the South African ship with three vital half-century partnerships even as the Indian wrist spin duo of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (3/34) and leggie Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45) shared five wickets between them to rip through the top order.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, South Africa got off to a patient 30-run start before Jasprit Bumrah’s sharp inswinger trapped opener Hashim Amla (16 off 17 balls; 4X1) plumb in front.
Du Plessis rescued the hosts with a 53-run second wicket stand with stumper Quinton de Kock (34 off 49; 4X4) before Chahal and Kuldeep crippled the hosts with some excellent bowling.
The captain started well by punishing pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three consecutive boundaries as the second wicket stand started flourishing to 83/1 until Chahal struck with the wicket of de Kock, trapped in front before jolting the hosts with the wicket of Aiden Markram (9 off 21), thanks to a brilliant running catch from Hardik Pandya.
Kuldeep then joined the party with the quick dismissals of Jean Paul Duminy (12 off 18) and David Miller (7 off 7) even as du Plessis looked comfortable driving Kuldeep for a couple of runs through extra cover to bring up his 30th ODI fifty.
Duminy found the going tough against the chinaman before a googly, which kept low, broke through his defences leaving the Proteas struggling at 122/4.
Miller, who walked in next, too struggled against the unorthodox Kuldeep and all he could manage was a drive to skipper Virat Kohli, who completed an excellent catch, diving forward at short cover.
Kohli, who had previously sustained a knock, had returned to the field after nursing the bruise and positioned himself closer to the batsman, which helped him complete Miller’s catch cleanly.
Tottering at 134/5, the Proteas needed a big partnership to bail them out and all-rounder Chris Morris (37 off 43; 4X4, 6X1) provided the much-needed impetus to the innings by forging a 74-run sixth wicket stand in the company of his captain.
Morris looked in great nick throughout his knock, and even took Kuldeep to the cleaners once before being cleaned up two balls later.
Du Plessis, meanwhile survived a few close chances before reaching his century off a single from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and later in the company of Andile Phehlukwayo (27 not out off 33; 4X1, 6X1) raised a 56-run seventh wicket stand.
The skipper fell in the final over of the innings while attempting to take Bhuvneshwar to the cleaners and instead holed out to Hardik at the long-off boundary even as the incoming batsmen — Kagiso Rabada (1) and Morne Morkel (0 not out) hardly disturbed the scorers.
Brief Scores: South Africa 269/8 (Faf du Plessis 120, Chris Morris 37, Quinton de Kock 34; Kuldeep Yadav 3/34, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/45) vs India. (IANS)