By Aritra Chowdhury
Mumbai, Oct 25:
Powered by centuries each from Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock, South Africa registered a mammoth 214-run win over a spiritless India in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday to clinch the series 3-2.
Fighting the heat and humidity, du Plessis struck 133 off 115 balls, de Villiers smashed 119 off 61, and opener de Kock hit 109 off 87 balls to put the visitors in the driving seat in the crucial contest with a massive score of 438/4 in 50 overs.
In reply, despite a fighting 58-ball 87 from local batsman Ajinkya Rahane and 59-ball 60 from Shikhar Dhawan, the hosts were bowled out for 224 in 35.5 overs.
For the visitors, young pacer Kagiso Rabada (4-41) and experienced seamer Dale Steyn (3-38) were the pick of the bowlers.
Chasing a mammoth target of 439, India got off to a modest start with openers Dhawan and local boy Rohit Sharma in good touch. Playing his first ODI in his home ground, Rohit struck three boundaries before giving his wicket away to Kyle Abbott in the fifth over.
India suffered their second blow with incoming batsman Virat Kohli (7) falling in the eighth over — caught by wicker-keeper de Kock after nicking an outside off-stump ball to have India struggling at 44/2.
Rahane joined hands with Dhawan to try something different after two quick wickets.
The duo managed to help India cross the 100-run mark in the 17th over. After striking a couple of boundaries and sixes, the 112-run partnership for the third wicket was broken when Dhawan was caught by Hashim Amla off Rabada in the 24th over.
Suresh Raina (12) too didn’t last long as he was bowled around his legs while trying to flick the ball off Rabada.
Set batsman Rahane too departed in the 27th over, followed by Axar Patel (5) and Harbhajan Singh (0) to end India’s hopes of clinching the series.
For skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (27), it was too onerous a task.
Earlier in the day, opting to bat first, the Proteas started their proceedings on an aggressive note with de Kock and partner Amla (23) handling the Indian pacers Bhuvneshwar and Mohit Sharma comfortably on the batting friendly wicket.
But pacer Mohit came back strongly to give the hosts the first breakthrough in the fourth over. Amla was trying to cut the ball and got a thin edge which safely found the hands of wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. South Africa’s score was 33/1 then.
Du Plessis, who has three fifties in the past four matches, and de Kock made it look too easy as they simply toyed with the Indian medium pacers and the three spinners — Harbhajan, Amit Mishra and Axar.
India had their best chance in the 16th over to dismiss de Kock when the left-hander was on 58 but some sloppy fielding by Mohit, denied bowler Amit the wicket.
They brought up team’s 150 in just the 23rd over.
But a bowling change by Dhoni worked as Suresh Raina as de Kock trying to hit over long-off found Virat Kohli. At this juncture, South Africa were 187/2 in 26.5 overs following the culmination of an 154-run stand between the duo.
The fall of the wicket did not bother the visitors as skipper de Villiers made it look easy as he got off to a blinder of a start.
Du Plessis and de Villiers brought up their 250 in the 36th over as the latter took only 34 balls to reach his fifty.
Their fluent batting brought up the 100-run partnership for the third wicket in 77 balls.
Even though du Plessis was struggling with cramps and was unable to run quickly between the wicket, he made it up by hitting big shots after his century.
After he went back to the pavilion retired hurt, an 164 run-partnership for the third wicket ended.
David Miller (22 off 12) punched some powerful shots later in the innings to put up the highest ODI score by any team at this stadium, the previous being 358/8 made by New Zealand against Canada in 2011.
The mammoth total proved too tall a target for India, as they were bowled out for 224. (IANS)