It was another Virat Kohli special as he guided India to an emphatic eight-wicket victory against South Africa in the sixth and final ODI at the Centurion.
The run-machine hit his 35th ODI career ton and his third of the series as India successfully chased down South Africa’s paltry target of 205 runs. The Indian skipper shared a stunning 126-run stand for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (34*) as the duo made light work of the chase in just 32.1 overs. In the end Kohli remained unbeaten on 129 and made sure he hit the winning runs.
With this victory, the Indians maintained their domination against the Proteas, who were bundled for just 204 runs with Khaya Zondo top scoring with 54. Shardul Thakur was given an opportunity for the rested Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and the pacer starred with four wickets.
Majestic Kohli piles up the runs
Kohli’s 129 off 96 deliveries was his third century of the series as he became the first Indian batsman to hit three tons in a bilateral series. His innings was laced with 19 fours and two sixes and the tempo in which he approached the innings was a fantastic achievement.
A third century of the series for @imVkohli gets him his third Player of the Match award of the series!
He's the first Indian to score three centuries in a bilateral ODI series! #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/2s8EHjQDMw
— ICC (@ICC) February 16, 2018
Kohli augured with confidence throughout the series and batted like a sheer champion. He has shaped up his game in a level that others are finding hard to reach. Kohli’s individual record in ODIs is rising day by day and it highlights a player that enjoys batting in this format with flair and gusto.
The way Kohli built his innings and played with the demands of the situation, it is a commendable for a player of his character. His fitness and running between the wickets was a top class entity. 35 tons to his name and already the third of 2018, Kohli is continuing in the same vein that saw him be awarded as ICC ODI Player of the Year for 2017.
The star batsman scored an emphatic 558 runs in the series at an astounding average of 186.00. This in turn saw Kohli become the first player ever to score over 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series.
India captain @imVkohli is the Player of the Series – the first player ever to score over 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series! 🙌 #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/UCIoL6gF39
— ICC (@ICC) February 16, 2018
India make light work of chase
The visitors lost Rohit Sharma (15) with the scorecard reading 19 runs on the board. Lungi Ngidi bowled a short ball and the opener tried to pull the ball only for him to offer a catch to wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen. Kohli joined Shikhar Dhawan at the crease as the duo added 61 runs for the second wicket.
Kohli played with a positive pace right from the start and took the charge in the partnership with Dhawan playing as the second fiddle. The former set his intentions clear after hitting both Morne Morkel and Ngidi for a flurry of boundaries. Dhawan, who looked quiet then perished off Ngidi’s well planned width ball with the southpaw going for the charge but getting caught out in the process.
Kohli mustered on the runs and brought up his fifty in the 16th over. Boundaries were a common factor for the Indian captain as he kept the runs flowing at ease. Cover drives, dabs on the on-side, pull through the mid-wicket was all in display. He then brought up his century in the end of the 27th over with a boundary off Imran Tahir’s over pitched ball.
Rahane played a well supported innings of 34 runs and took his time in the middle. In the end Kohli targeted Tahir to clobber him for two sixes before hitting Ngidi for a four to win the game for his side.
SA fall short with the bat
Earlier, the duo of Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram added 23 runs for the opening wicket before the former was caught behind, pulling down leg side off a short ball from Shardul Thakur. The pacer struck for a second time within the first power-play as a clever change of pace foxed Markram completely and he simply chipped a catch to Shreyas Iyer at cover.
It brought AB de Villiers (30) and Khaya Zondo (54 runs) to the crease, and they rebuilt the innings with a 62-run partnership for the third wicket. They rotated the strike well and looked to be positive even against the spinners. The Proteas brought up their hundred in the 19th over. Zondo was in good touch and smashed Yuzvendra Chahal for two sixes.
But the wrist spinner then foxed AB de Villiers with a straighter one. Klaasen came in and showed emergency with three cracking boundaries, but Jasprit Bumrah got his man with Kohli taking a superb low catch at cover. From there on India made inroads with the bowlers doing a fine job to restrict the hosts to just 204.